Ocean City Fall Block Party Gives Shoppers Mega-Day

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Asbury Avenue in Ocean City transforms into one huge shopping and dining event with the Fall Block Party.

By MADDY VITALE and DONALD WITTKOWSKI

Visitors to Ocean City on Saturday weren’t going to let a little wind and rain, or a lot of rain for that matter, discourage them from having a great time at the Fall Block Party.

While the morning started off partly sunny, clouds came in later and then the rains, some of them heavy. But patrons were prepared. They wore raincoats, toted umbrellas, donned caps and popped in and out of vendor tents to shop, grab a bite to eat or just browse.

The downtown from Fifth to 14th streets along Asbury Avenue became an ultra-shopping, dining and entertainment experience for the thousands of visitors to the resort.

They enjoyed crafters, restaurants, shops and organizations. Live entertainment from Big Daddy Duo and other bands serenaded block partygoers along Asbury Avenue.

Alexandria Wilson, left, with her twin daughters, Isla and Kinsley, and her mother, Sherry Wilson, don’t let rain ruin their block party tradition.

Drexel Hill, Pa., resident Sherry Wilson, her daughter, Alexandria Wilson, and Alexandria’s 4-year-old twins, Isla and Kinsley, wore their best rain gear. The girls even had mini-mouse ears on their hoods.

“We prepared for the rain. We’re fine,” Sherry said with a laugh, as the family ducked into a vendor tent to purchase cannolis.

The family drove to Ocean City in the morning and by noon, the girls already had a full day.

“They went on pony rides,” Alexandria said of the block party’s kid-friendly attraction on the grounds of the Ocean City Tabernacle. “And they got makeup, too – lip gloss.”

When asked their favorite part of the day, Kinsley exclaimed, “The makeup!”

Becky Juzwiak, of Johnson’s Popcorn in Ocean City, helps a customer.

Each year the Fall Block Party, which is sponsored by the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce, attracts tens of thousands of visitors to the island.

Streams of patrons crowded Asbury Avenue, transforming the downtown into a sprawling, outdoor shopping mall.

Streets were closed off so visitors could take their time to stroll the avenue in search of holiday gifts and other fun finds or just munch on some tasty food.

Brianna Hess Jones and her husband, Sean Jones, of Somers Point, brought their 3-month-old son, Levi.

“I grew up in Ocean City,” Brianna, 28, said. “I’ve been coming to the block party since I was born.”

She and her family also go to Ocean City’s Spring Block Party every May.

The Joneses are making it a family tradition for not only Levi, but their 9-year-old son, Landon.

“It’s a nice family-friendly place to go,” Sean said of the block party.

Family friend Gabrielle Battipaglia, of Somers Point, also came along for the day’s entertainment.

Battipaglia, who has a 10-year-old daughter, Adelina, had an idea.

“I’m looking for something for the kids,” she said.

“We want to surprise them,” Brianna said of the friends purchasing presents for Landon and Adelina.

As for the adults, “I definitely want to check out the holiday gifts and get some food,” Brianna said.

A chef makes sure there is plenty of barbecue for customers.

There was a wide array of culinary choices for patrons, with everything from barbecue to sweets to gyros.

Becky Juzwiak, vice president of Johnson’s Popcorn in Ocean City, was busy helping customers at the corner of Eighth Street and Asbury Avenue as she sold bucket after bucket of the caramel corn, complete with Halloween-themed designs on the containers.

“Today is one of my favorite days of the year,” Juzwiak said. “We’ve been on this corner for the block party for 30 years. There are so many great vendors and it’s over a holiday weekend.”

The day was meant for shopping, shopping and more shopping, according to friends Denise Jordan-Bear, of Langhorne, Pa., and longtime friend, Elena Parsons, of Ocean City, as they browsed through some jewelry at Seafindings at Stainton’s Gallery of Shops in the downtown.

Shoppers stop for a photo in between checking out jewelry.

Seafindings owner, Elyssa Glenn, who makes the jewelry, helped the shoppers, who perused necklaces, bracelets and earrings made of gems and sea glass.

Jordan-Bear said she enjoys coming down for the weekend event and especially loved looking at the different vendor merchandise.

“We have a wonderful time,” she said.

“We’ve been coming for 10 years. We love it here,” Parsons added of the block party.

For more information about Ocean City and its events, visit www.ocnj.us and www.OceanCityVacation.com.

Big Daddy Duo performs in front of Mark Soifer Park.
From left, Gabrielle Battipaglia with her friends, Brianna and Sean Jones and their son, Levi, enjoy the day.
Even dogs have fun.
The rain doesn’t discourage shoppers.
Shoppers find some holiday gifts.
Ocean City Exchange Club members serve up burgers and hotdogs for the crowds.
The view from the steps at City Hall.
Shoppers walk by City Hall.