By MADDY VITALE
There’s nothing like a parade to lift the spirits and start the Fourth of July holiday off in celebratory fashion. And when it came to patriotism, Ocean City’s north and south end parades showcased an abundance of red, white and blue clothing, bikes, floats, streamers, sunglasses and even socks with lots of stars and stripes.
Yes, Ocean City’s holiday started with a bang with the 10 a.m. parades – and the day’s events were just getting started.
After the parades, there was plenty to do, including a kite-flying contest and a yo-yo exhibition and a concert by the city’s orchestra, the Ocean City Pops. Fireworks capped off the day with a display launched from a barge in the ocean near the Music Pier.
Thousands of parade goers headed to the South End Parade, which featured floats and bicycles.
There were floats featuring a military theme and even a float with two people on jets skis. Then there were an array of flashy cars carrying pageant queens and contestants for the Miss Night in Venice.
Oh, and there were plenty of candies tossed to hundreds of happy children along the parade route.
On the other side of town, the Gardens Civic Association Bike Parade, also called the North End Parade, featured more than 1,000 participants, according to organizer Duane Sonneborne.
“We had a great turnout,” Sonneborne said.
Gillian and John Sheahan, of 50th Street in Ocean City, and their daughters, Ginger, 7, Millie, 4, and 5–month-old Bizzy, were ready for a parade that Gillian has been attending since she was a little girl.
Each year they pick a theme. This year’s was “50th Street Firecrackers.”
The entire family and the float were adorned in streamers, pom poms, faux fireworks, which were cardboard canisters, and plenty of patriotic spirit.
“My grandparents made floats for my parents and my parents made floats for me. Our family tradition goes back to the 1960s,” Gillian said. “We can’t miss this parade. We love it.”
John Sheahan wasn’t too worried about the grand display. “It just has to make it for 12 blocks,” he joked of the decorations on the float.
Like the Sheahans, Kellie and John Dempsey, who have a summer home in Ocean City, decided everyone should get into the spirit of the Fourth — which included them as well as their children, Olivia, 6, Jackson, 5, and 3-year-old Beckett, wearing patriotic colors.
“I’ve been coming to the parade since I was a baby,” Kellie said. “My parents took me and now I take my children. We call Ocean City our happy place.”
John added that he liked how family-friendly the event is.
“I’m glad to see the kids having a great time,” he said.
Olivia already knew her favorite part of the parade before it even started.
“I like getting dressed up!” she exclaimed.
The parades in Ocean City are a true holiday tradition, said Michele Gillian, executive director of the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce, while attending the South End Parade.
“What’s so special is it is a generational event that happens in the south end,” she said. “So many people come and make it a family tradition. That’s why it is packed every year.”
She added that the North End Parade is always a well-attended and enjoyable event as well.
Cheryl Kerr, of Ocean City, brought along her 3-year-old son, Colton, who was decked out in all that is patriotic, which included wearing a huge red, white and blue top hat.
“This is the first year we are doing it. I figured Colton was old enough to enjoy it,” Kerr said.
City Council Vice President Karen Bergman walked the parade route in the south end wearing her patriotic colors.
“This is amazing. It’s a beautiful day,” noted Bergman, who is in charge of membership sales and events for the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce. “I’m so glad people came out on Fourth of July to celebrate our nation’s birthday.”