Celebrate the Season at the Seashore

While one would think Ocean City is a ghost town this time of year, it is actually an enchanting time to visit. The crowds are gone, leaving the roads open for exploring and the room rates at an all-time low. Restaurants reward patrons braving the weather with off-season specials sure to please any purse and palate. Recently, the annual light display, Winterfest of Lights, turned on its twinkle, celebrating the 25th anniversary of this award-winning event. More than one million lights sparkle on the animated, fairy-tale-themed light displays throughout Northside Park. Hop on the train and ride the one-mile journey, which takes you through 58 acres of lights and features a 50-foot Christmas tree. After the train ride, be sure to grab hot chocolate in the heated Winterfest Village pavilion and take pics with Santa in front of the large poinsettia tree. Admission to board the train is only $5 for guests 12 years and older and FREE for children 11 years and younger. So grab your family and friends for this wonderful tradition!
Also at Northside Park, the town of Ocean City will be hosting a New Year’s Eve fi reworks show to celebrate the beginning of 2018. The fi reworks display, which will begin promptly at midnight on New Year’s Eve, will be accompanied by live entertainment. Winterfest of Lights hours will be extended until midnight, giving you plenty of time to ride through the winter paradise. Several hotels and restaurants also offer fabulous New Year’s Eve packages. Ocean City is a great place to ring in the new year!

Community Giving
It never ceases to amaze me how giving our community truly is. Over the summer, we partnered with the United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore to raise funds that would stay in our backyard. Together, Dine United and Stay United raised over $71,000! Cole Taustin, vice president of Blu Crabhouse & Raw Bar and the inventor of the Dine United OC Competition, stated, “I could not be more excited about the success of Dine United and Stay United. The generosity of the business community in Ocean City has always been tremendous, and this is just another testament to that.”
Thank you to all restaurant participants: Surfi n’ Betty’s Beach Bar, DaVinci’s By The Sea, Sello’s Italian Oven Bar, Little House of Pancakes, Ribs & Pizza, Coastal Coffee, The Dough Roller – 41st and 70th Street locations, Happy Jack Pancake House, Outback Steakhouse West OC, Brass Balls Saloon, Blu Crabhouse & Raw Bar, Phillips Seafood House & Phillips Crab House, Grotto Pizza – 15th and 125th Street locations, The Embers Restaurant, Crab Bag, O.C. Seacrets, and The Harrison Group Restaurants, including The Original Pool Bar & Grill, Deep End Pool Bar, The Coral Reef Café, Hemingway’s at the Coral Reef, Atrium Café, Caribbean Pool Bar & Grill, Mañana Mode, 32 Palm, Rumbas Lounge, and Harrison’s Harbor Watch.

And, the winners of Dine United were:
• 0-150 seats – The Original Pool Bar & Grill
• 150-300 seats – Happy Jack Pancake House
• 300-600 seats – Harrison’s Harbor Watch
• 600+ seats – The Embers Restaurant

This year, we added hotels to the competition with Stay United. Thank you to all hotel participants: Courtyard by Marriott, Ocean 1 Condos, The Burgundy Inn, Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel, Howard Johnson Inn, Commander Hotel, Dunes Manor, Days Inn Oceanfront, Francis Scott Key Family Resort, Princess Royale Oceanfront, Fenwick Inn, and The Grand Hotel.

Winning the Stay United competition were:
• 0-99 rooms – Courtyard by Marriott
• 100-199 rooms – Commander Hotel
• 200+ rooms – Francis Scott Key Family Resort
We’d be remiss if we didn’t also thank the following vendors for their generous competition support: The Erwyn Group, Tito’s Vodka, Pernod Ricard, Brown-Foreman, and Bacardi USA.
The Harrison Group Restaurants raised $23,500 alone in the Dine United competition ($20,000 from the restaurants and a $3,500 vendor match by Tito’s Vodka).
Mark Mayers, executive chef of The Harrison Group, noted, “The Harrison Group Restaurants take great pride in partnering with United Way in providing worthy support for so many local organizations and families in need. One hundred percent of our funds raised in the competition are put to work in our own communities. I am very proud of the efforts of our restaurant teams from the past two years, raising over $40,000.”

SUSAN JONES is the executive director of the Ocean City Hotel Motel Restaurant Association.

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