OCEAN CITY — Any summer weekend in Ocean City can count as a big weekend. But when it comes to the city’s annual Night in Venice celebration this weekend, it’s just massive, colossal, gigantic.
Look, it’s a really big weekend.
The city’s annual boat show will pack the island, turn the 9th St. bridge into a parking lot and pretty much just take over life in Ocean City for a night (July 16).
It’s a tradition that dates back to 1954. Well, the modern tradition that is — the city can trace the custom back even further.
Modeled after traditional boat parades in Venice, Italy, for one night the city’s boat owners (and anybody else who wants to, really) decorate their boats and parade through the city’s lagoons and back bays. Of course many homeowners along the route also decorate their homes. So it’s a lot of decorations and a pretty festive mood throughout the city.
This year’s parade has the optional theme of “Broadway on the Bay” and will feature Philadelphia Flyers forward Ian Laperriere as grand marshal.
The parade starts at 7:30pm (one hour later than originally announced) at the Longport Bridge and ends at Tennessee Avenue.
Some other events are also held, such as the Merchants in Venice Seafood Festival on Friday, July 15, along Asbury Avenue between 6th and 9th strees, from 5-9pm. There’s also a summer Arts and Crafts Spectacular on Saturday at Carey stadium from 10am-5pm.
Still, the big party is Night in Venice Saturday night.
One great place for families to watch is at the Bayside Center (5th Street and Bay Avenue). There’s a ticket price at the location, $7 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under.
The Good Tymes Band will start playing 4:45pm at the center, which also hosts children’s activities including games, crafts and face painting. Snacks will be sold by the Sting Rays Swim Team to benefit their Special Olympics program. Visitors may bring their own picnic baskets and chairs. No alcohol is permitted. Grand stands will be set up at the Bayside Center for boat viewing.
Parking is always a concern in Ocean City during Night in Venice. Free parking and a free shuttle service will be available from the Ocean City Airport (25th Street and Bay Avenue) and the soccer field at Bay and Tennessee avenues to the Bayside Center. Shuttles will also pick up persons parked at the Aquatic and Fitness Center-Library Complex (17th Street and Simpson Avenue).
Once you’re parked and find a viewing spot, there’s nothing left to do but take in the show.
It is, after all, a really big weekend.
This week’s events:
Thursday, July 14
‘Great Balls of Fire’
Music Pier, Moorlyn Terrace and Boardwalk. Starring Linda Gentille. The show features music from the great piano legends of the last 50 years including Jerry Lee Lewis, Billy Joel, Elton John, Liberace, Roger Williams, Barry Manilow, Stevie Wonder, and Fats Waller. $25 at the door. 7:30pm. Call 525-9300 or vist greatballsoffire.com.
Friday, July 15
Music Pier, Moorlyn Terrace and Boardwalk. Presented by the Ocean City Tabernacle. 7pm. Tickets are $10 and available at the Ocean City Tabernacle, Music Pier Box Office, or online at www.octabernacle.org.
Merchants in Venice Seafood Festival
Asbury Ave. between 6th and 9th sts. A wide variety of tasty seafood will be offered and there will be rides for the children. Free. 5-9pm. Call 525-9300 or visit ocnj.us.
Saturday, July 16
Summer Arts & Crafts Spectacular
Carey Stadium and Civic Center just off the Boardwalk at 6th St. Over 250 juried crafters, artists, photographers and gourmet food specialists. Free. 10am-5pm. Call 800-822-4112.
Night in Venice
Citywide. Boat parade starts 7:30pm. Visit ocnj.us for info.
Sunday, July 17
Ditchfield Famiy Singers
Ocean City Tabernacle, 550 Wesley Ave. Eight-voice touring group with varied sacred repertoire. Free. 7pm. Call 399-1915 or visit octabernacle.org.
Nor’easters Soccer Game
Carey Stadium, 6th & Atlantic Ave. Vs Westchester Flames. Ocean City FC Nor’easters Day. Special events include on-field supporter penalty shoot out, trophy presentations, competitions with prizes throughout the game, Speed Shot with prizes, Kickoff 6pm. Adults $6, youth $4 Call 525-9999 or visitoceancityfc.com.
Ocean City Pops - A Caberet Evening with Jody Kidwell and Dominic Inferrera
Music Pier, Moorlyn Terrace and Boardwalk. Hear Johnny Mercer favorites such as “Hooray for Hollywood,” “One for My Baby,” “That Old Black Magic,” “Skylark” and much more. $15/$10. Call 525-9300 or visit ocnj.us.
Ocean City has been adroit at attracting tourists to the resort town in a number of quirky ways. This week it didn’t need to lift a finger to draw a large gathering, in a way it would probably prefer forgoing in the future.
While there are literally hundreds of cool events, concerts, restaurants and family friendly activities available in the region during the good old summertime, we have put together a list that highlights some of the very best ways to have fun this season —in no particular order.
Photo Gallery: Audrina Patridge at Dusk at Caesars last weekend, Carlos Santana at the Taj Mahal July 24, The Show at Showboat, Night in Venice boat parade in Ocean City, The Association at the Ocean City Music Pier as part of the Stockton Goes to the Beach concert series, the restaurant Oshi at Showboat, and the most recent event in the AC Weekly Happy Hour Club series, which took place at the Melting Pot, located at The Walk in Atlantic City.
Night in Venice Boat Parade takes place Saturday, July 24, in Ocean City.
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