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Ocean City to Welcome 2018 With First Night and First Day

What’s Happening in Ocean City, NJ 12/27/17

What better way to start a new year than by celebrating in Ocean City? Families here know that you don’t have to wait till summer to get sand in your shoes. Ocean City hosts popular First Night and First Day celebrations to mark New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

Now in its 26th year, First Night includes a spectacular lineup of more than 75 shows and activities at venues throughout Ocean City during an alcohol-free celebration from 4 p.m. to midnight on Dec. 31, 2017. About 10,000 people will fill the streets and make New Year’s Eve feel like a summer night in Ocean City, before a midnight fireworks display rings in the year 2018.

The fun continues on New Year’s Day with the all-day Shopping Extravaganza at stores throughout town and a 5-kilometer run.

First Night attendees this year will get the first opportunity to visit the newly restored U.S. Life Saving Station 30 at the intersection of Fourth Street and Atlantic Avenue. The station operated in Ocean City from 1885 to 1915 as part of the U.S. Life Saving Service, a precursor to the modern Coast Guard. A years-long effort to acquire and restore the historic building is nearly complete, and anybody with a First Night admission button will be invited to stop by and tour the station between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Dec. 31. Guides will be on hand to answer questions about the station, and artifacts will show how it operated. The station will be decorated with a traditional Christmas tree.

Here’s what you need to know to enjoy all the fun.

How to purchase First Night admission buttons: Buttons ($20) are good for all events. Children age 2 and under are free.

  • Online: Purchase First Night buttons online at http://www.firstnightocnj.com.
  • By phone:Call 1-800-BEACH-NJ.
  • In person:Buttons can be purchased at the Welcome Center on the Route 52 causeway (9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily), at Stainton’s Square (810 Asbury Avenue, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily) and at City Hall (9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily).
  • Get tickets now:Sales are capped at 10,000 and buttons do sell out.

When: The First Night event schedule runs 4 p.m. through the midnight fireworks on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017.

What and Where: 33 different shows and activities will be available during more than 75 different time slots at 20 venues throughout Ocean City.

Chubby Checker: Chubby Checker will provide headline entertainment on the Ocean City Music Pier. Checker first performed “The Twist” on “American Bandstand” in 1960, and dancing has never been the same. The rock ’n’ roll icon has sold 250 million records and toured continuously in his career of six decades. Checker was born in South Carolina but grew up in Philadelphia and became a local celebrity with his impressions of Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley at Tony Anastazi’s Produce Store on South Street. The Philly boy became a star with a string of hit singles in the 1960s that included “Pony Time,” “The Mess Around,” “Limbo Rock” and “Jingle Bell Rock.” Last summer, he released “Knock Down the Walls,” which made it to No. 1 on Billboard’s dance music chart. Checker will perform shows at 9 p.m., 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. on the Music Pier.

More Highlights: Popular attractions such as rides on Wonderland Pier, outdoor ice-skating, Abbott and Costello impersonators, the Fabulous Greaseband, the Ocean City Pops orchestra, nationally acclaimed magicians Chad Juros and Ben Lipman, and Japanese drummers return this year. The pool at the Ocean City Aquatics and Fitness Center, the new skateboard park at Fifth Street and Asbury Avenue and the observatory at Ocean City High School will be open to button-holders.

Parking and transportation: All municipal parking lots and metered parking spots are free. Jitneys will provide free transportation from 5 p.m. until 12:30 a.m. for button-holders, operating continuously between sites starting at the Ocean City Transportation Center (Ninth Street and Haven Avenue) and Seventh Street Parking Lot (Seventh Street and Central Ave.). For a route map and more information, visit the First Night website.

Fireworks: A fireworks display will be launched starting at midnight from the beach between Fifth Street and Sixth Street. The best viewing spots will be from the beach and boardwalk on either side of this block, which which will be closed during the show.

Sponsors: Primary sponsors include Gillian’s Wonderland Pier, the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce, OceanFirst Bank, Ocean City Tabernacle and the Ocean City Free Public Library.

History of First Night: First Night in Ocean City and was modeled after an alcohol-free New Year’s Eve celebration in Boston that marked the nation’s bicentennial in 1976. The first celebration in Ocean City in 1992 included 25 entertainment acts in five different locations with admission buttons selling for $8 ($5 before Dec. 26). About 800 buttons were sold.

First Day Shopping Extravaganza: The Shopping Extravaganza all day on Monday, Jan. 1 includes great bargains on downtown shopping and free horse-and-carriage rides, noon to 3 p.m., starting at City Hall. Ocean City’s Asbury Avenue between Fifth Street and 14th Street has been voted the number one downtown in South Jersey.

First Day 5K: A 5-kilometer run and non-competitive walk starts at 1 p.m. on the boardwalk near Seventh Street. Race-day registration begins 11 a.m. at the Ocean City Music Pier (Boardwalk at Moorlyn Terrace). T-shirts will be available for the first 500 registered. Refreshments are available after the race. Entry fee is $25. Award categories include male and female first, second and third overall and first, second and third in the following categories: 14 and under, 15-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70 and over. Visit https://runsignup.com/Race/NJ/OceanCity/FirstDay5KBoardwalkRun to pre-register or print an application.

COMING UP IN JANUARY

SOLDIER CRY: THE STAGE PLAY (Jan. 7): Shows are 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. at the Ocean City Music Pier. Come see Shore Medical Center employees and war veterans on stage to benefit the SMC Cancer Center. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased  at the City Hall Welcome Center or at the door on the day of the show.

CAPE SHORE CHORALE EPIPHANY CONCERT (Jan. 7): 3 p.m. at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, 2998 Bay Ave. Directed by Scott J. Breiner, the group will perform selections from J.S. Bach’s Cantata No. 80, “Ein Festeburg 1st Unser Gott,” as well as other seasonal music. Visit www.capeshorechorale.org.

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. CEREMONY (Jan. 13): Begins at 1 p.m. at the Bill and Nancy Hughes Performing Arts Center, located at the Ocean City High School, Sixth Street and Atlantic Avenue. Please use Sixth Street entrance. Immediately following the ceremony, stay and enjoy a soul food dinner. A southern style comfort menu to include fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, corn bread, collard greens and more! For more information, please call 609-399-6111.

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DAY OF SERVICE (Jan. 15): Contribute to a morning of service where you can participate in a citywide cleanup from 9 a.m. to noon. Sign-up, supply distribution and lunch will take place at the Howard S. Stainton Senior Center, located in the Community Center, 17th Street and Simpson Avenue. To participate or for more information, please call 609-399-6111.

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