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Ocean City vs. Rehoboth: Sizing up the beaches historically and presidentially

Ocean City vs. Rehoboth: Sizing up the beaches historically and presidentially
A glimpse of the Ocean City boardwalk in 1983. Lots of sunshine, arcades and restaurants. Basically FDR... Or so The Sun said in a 1982 article, comparing the Maryland beach town with Delaware's Rehoboth Beach. (WILLIAM HOTZ / Baltimore Sun)

For people living in the Baltimore and Washington region, the choice in summer locale can say a lot, according to The Baltimore Sun archives.

In a 1982 article entitled, “A tale of two beaches: One for Md., one for D.C.,” The Sun’s Rob Kasper compared Ocean City’s style to the Democratic party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

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Replete with arcades and restaurants, “It holds out the promise of sunshine to all people.” Ocean City, Kasper said, is Maryland’s beach.

On the other hand, Rehoboth Beach, Kasper said, “is akin to Gerald and Betty Ford. Friendly, well-dressed, confident people who have done well in life.”

People from Washington, people who worked in politics, people who worked for National Geographic — this is who came to Rehoboth, Kasper said, drawn to the trees, galleries and D.C. gossip.

Over time, Rehoboth gained popularity with gay beachcombers, and members of the LGBTQ community opened several businesses in the area.

In 1985, the mayor said he thought the influx of gay people was ruining the beach’s “family image.”

Local business owners retorted that the mayor was perfectly happy to have gay customers spend money in Rehoboth, so long as they remained hidden from society.

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