By Sam Sessa, The Baltimore Sun
2:26 PM EDT, May 12, 2011
Two years ago, Ocean City debuted a sunny, slightly absurd ad campaign starring a lifeguard named Rodney, who "rescued" people from their daily lives and whisked them away to the beach.
With summer just around the corner, the ad series is back for another round of Rodney's rescues, which sees the lifeguard heading to downtown Baltimore and suburbia. Aired across the region, the campaign has made waves with tourists, according to town spokeswoman Donna Abbott.
"It's not your standard beach advertisement," Abbott said. "It's spread beyond that. … I'll tell you, when I've been places with Rodney, it's just amazing to see how many people recognize him."
Rodney is played by 29-year-old actor Blake Adams, who lives in New York and is now rescuing folks all along the East Coast, and has become a kind of celebrity in his own right.
Who's been the most memorable person you've saved?
I tried to rescue Charlie Sheen once, but he refused. [Ocean City] Mayor Rick Meehan has been nice enough to let me use the Ocean City tram, so I've been able to do large groups at a time, instead of just one person.
And people recognize you when you go down there?
I actually get recognized up and down the East Coast — sometimes at the oddest times. Sometimes I'll be in line at the grocery store and I'll have a lady look back and be like, 'I wish you could rescue me right now.' And I'm like, 'Gimme two seconds!'
I get a lot of recognition at the gym also. And funny enough, the subway is big, too. When I find myself in the Baltimore area, on the sidewalk, you find people gazing around, looking at the sun, and the next thing, you look over and it's like, 'Rodney?' It's almost like a dream — they can see the beach coming for them.
How far do you have to run to save some of these people?
Distance really isn't of concern to me, but I'm really happy they started letting me use the Ocean City tram, so I don't have to run across the Bay Bridge anymore.
Do you have six-pack abs?
I don't have a six-pack — I have an eight-pack.
Do you wear out a lot of shoes?
I do go through a lot of shoes. I also go through a lot of shirts. There's a lot of sweating, running up and down the beach. They like to keep me fresh and clean. I always get a new shirt so I don't sweat on the people I'm saving.
Do the people you've saved ever reward you with gifts?
I did get some homemade cookies once and some homemade brownies. I really appreciate that. I just like seeing their faces when they get their feet in the sand and feel the cool breeze coming off the nice ocean waters. That's more than enough. I'm thrilled I can help people find inner peace and inner happiness.
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