Back to the beach, bumper-to-bumper


OCEAN CITY -- The first "no vacancy" signs of the season blinked on in Ocean City this weekend as the Memorial Day pilgrimage to the seashore began.

Sunny skies and warm temperatures made the beach yesterday's main attraction -- the first full day of the summer season. Afternoon temperatures stayed around 75 degrees and water temperature was 63 degrees.

Temperatures are expected to be about the same today with a chance of afternoon showers.

"The weather is a nice change. Usually it rains," said Virginia Brassel of Annapolis, who was sitting under a beach umbrella near 11th Street with her husband, Jon, an attorney.

"We arrived at 7 Friday night with the rest of the world," Mrs. Brassel said. "It was the worst traffic we've seen coming down."

"Bumper-to-bumper most of the way from Annapolis," Mr. Brassel added.

Police reported a quiet start to the weekend. The only exceptions were three Pennsylvania men arrested early Saturday after police said they found marijuana, LSD and psilocybin mushrooms at the men's St. Louis Avenue residence.

"It's a very quiet day, but the beach is really crowded," said Christopher Gombos, crew chief/dispatcher of the Ocean City beach patrol. "The water's about 60 degrees, and there's not a hazard swimming."

By noon yesterday, many people were already various shades of pink and the Boardwalk was coming to life as people went in search of refreshments and amusements.

The line at Thrasher's, a popular seller of memorably seasoned french fries, remained steady at about 40 people throughout the early afternoon.

For a group of 12 women, most from the Baltimore area, on the beach near Dorchester Street, this was "ladies weekend" -- the ++ group's seventh annual Memorial Day weekend with only one rule, no husbands or boyfriends al


"It's our male-bashing, man-hating weekend," said Rita Nowak, of Baltimore, with obvious glee.

The dozen women were staying, they said, in just three rooms of a nearby hotel they wouldn't name. The informal group has a core of regulars, with the rest being friends or acquaintances invited to come along for the weekend.

"We don't come down here to meet anyone," said Jennifer Campbell of Westminster.

"To talk to us, they [men] have to sing a song," added Lisa Harris of Baltimore.

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