The beach and bikinis go hand in hand. Knowing that, the North Ocean City Business Alliance and Spark Productions were inspired to plan Ocean City's first bikini parade - and they hoped to make it world-record sized.

But since those initial plans, which called for more than 450 participants, China has set a new world record with 1,085 women on parade in bikinis.

With just days to go, Brad Hoffman of Spark Productions said about 200 women have pre-registered for the event, which originally required a $10 donation but now is free. That leaves about 900 participants to register in two days to take the title of "World's Largest Bikini Parade."

Despite the bigger challenge, hopes were high at a press conference held Thursday at the Princess Royale on 91st Street, where the parade is set to start Saturday at 3 p.m. on the beach. ( You can register online at www.uptownbeachbash.com, before the event at the Greene Turtle on 116th St., or on the 25th onsite before 3 p.m.)

"Go out on the beach right now, there are thousands of people in bikinis, all we're asking is that they all join us on Saturday at 3 p.m.," Ocean City's Mayor Rick Meehan said. "I think it's very contagious. Once people see what's going on they're going to want to get involved."

Whether the record is broken or not, Hoffman said it has already successfully generated publicity for North Ocean City, and getting that attention on a typically slow weekend is the biggest success of all.

"North Ocean City is unique from downtown Ocean City. I think we need to celebrate that and showcase it," he said.

Steve Pappas, owner of the Greene Turtle and Blue Ox, and one of the founders of the North Ocean City Business Alliance, said generating attention this time of year is important because business typically drops 20 to 30 percent the last weekend in August. "The event focuses on something important to every business owner in O.C.- trying to extend the season more each year."

The bikini parade is part of the Uptown Beach Bash, a three-day party aimed at celebrating everything uptown O.C. has to offer. Events include a paddleboard regatta and kick-off party Friday at BJ's on the Water on 75th St. and a Local Palooza party with 10 live bands on Sunday at Northside Park on 125th St. After the parade on Saturday, a luau at the Blue Ox on 127th St. is scheduled for 7 p.m.

And yes, there is still going to be a party if the record isn't met- it's about the effort, not the result, organizers said.

Pappas said he hopes the event will become even bigger in coming years. "When something like this catches on, if we can try to break 1,100, let's try to break 20,000," he said. "As time goes on, I'm sure the event's gonna spread out from just a paddleboard race and a luau and it's gonna be a bunch of stuff and it might be a few more days too."

No matter what, you're going to want to check out the Uptown Beach Bash this weekend, even if it is just to see if Ocean City managed to trumped China's record.

Proceeds from the events will benefit Relay for Life, The Surfrider Foundation and local charity Diakonia.

"One protects the beaches, the other helps families in need and Relay for Life is a cancer organization, so we thought spreading it around like that was a good way to do it," Hoffman said. Hoffman said he hopes to raise between $750-$1,000 for each charity, depending on attendance and donations.