Colorful parachutes and freewheeling kites will brighten the skies over Ocean City this week as the resort celebrates the upcoming summer season with four days of concerts, parades, food and fun during its fourth annual Springfest.

As many as 200,000 visitors are expected for the festivities that will begin early Thursday with a boardwalk parade from 14th Street to the inlet and end Sunday evening with a concert by the Guess Who, a classic rock band.

"Springfest starts the party rolling," says Scott Warren, special events coordinator for the town of Ocean City. "It kicks off the season and gives you that summer feeling. It's a carnival-like atmosphere and it's great family fun."

Three big-tops and five smaller tents at the inlet parking lot will be filled with arts and crafts booths and food vendors selling everything from Cajun alligator on a stick to crab cakes.

Under another big-top tent will be the heart of Springfest -- free entertainment that includes concerts given by nationally known rock and country music performers and local favorites.

The festival will welcome the Guess Who as well as country stars Martina McBride and Collin Raye, pop singer Billy Joe Royal, and classic '50s group Sha Na Na. Local favorites Sh-Boom and the Hard Travelers will play hits from the '50s and '60s.

About 2,000 seats for the concerts will be available on a first come, first served basis. Bleachers will provide additional seating outdoors; other music lovers may want to spread a blanket in the sand and enjoy an open-air concert.

"They really get rockin' and rollin'," says Dennis Dare, city manager for the town. "We really try to keep it festive. And the price is right -- it's free."

The festivities will spill out of the inlet into the town, where some 800 classic custom cars and street rods will cruise the

streets, parading down the boardwalk and parking at the exhibition grounds at the inlet and the Convention Center.

"If you're in Ocean City that weekend it's going to look like 1957 again," says Jack Hennen, general manager of Special Event Productions, a Solomons Island corporation.

An Antique Truck Show featuring 50 pickups, panel vans, tractor-trailers and tow trucks dating to the 1920s will be held Sunday at the Ocean City Texaco, 12th Street and Coastal Highway.

"Everybody loves an old truck," says Bruce Wood, a partner in the family-owned Texaco business. He owns a 1937 Chevrolet pickup street rod and a 1953 Chevrolet half-ton pickup. "They're fun to ride in and it's an enjoyable hobby," he says.

Shantytown Village in West Ocean City will be the site of a boat show from Thursday through Sunday featuring nearly 100 of the latest models for fishing, cruising, racing and relaxing.

And some of the best stunt-kite fliers in the world will be on the beach between First and Fifth streets on Saturday and Sunday to compete in the Mid-Atlantic Stunt Kite Championships.

"It will be an impressive sky," says Stu Eisenman, marketing director for the Kite Loft -- one of the sponsors of the sporting event. "People can expect to see 100 stunt kites in the air at once. At times, there will be 1,000 kites up in the sky."

More than 150 competing pilots will steer two- and four-line kites through choreographed individual and team maneuvers. High Performance, one of the top teams in the country, is expected to come from California to participate.

Hobbyists flying for fun are expected to crowd the sky with single-line kites shaped like people, pigs, cows, frogs and parasails. Several kite manufacturers will be on hand to offer free stunt-flying lessons Saturday.

"People will see an aspect of kite flying they never even knew existed," Mr. Eisenman says. "It's really a lot of fun."

They'll also have the chance to watch 40 sky divers from the Skydiving Center of Greater Washington as they attempt to set a Maryland Freefall Formation record -- jumping in group formation six to eight times daily.

Novices who want to try sky diving may sign up for a first-time "tandem jump." They'll be harnessed to an instructor for a one-minute free fall followed by a five-minute, 7,000-foot descent to the beach under a parachute built for two. The cost is $195.

Visitors are asked to park in designated lots and ride buses to the Springfest grounds, says Bruce Gibbs, general foreman of the maintenance department, Department of Public Works.

Lots are located at: Francis Scott Key Motel, Golf Course Road and U.S. 50; Shantytown Village, Shantytown Road and U.S. 50; First Presbyterian Church, 13th Street and Coastal Highway; Convention Center, 40th Street and Coastal Highway; and Northside Park, 125th Street and the bay. Bus fare is $1 for the day.



* 9:30 a.m. Boardwalk parade from 14th Street south to the inlet

* 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Springfest activities at the inlet

* 12 p.m.-6 p.m. Springfest Boat Show

* 8 p.m. Collin Raye concert


* 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Springfest activities at the inlet

* 12 p.m.-6 p.m. Springfest Boat Show

* 8 p.m. Martina McBride concert


* 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Springfest activities at the inlet

* 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Stunt-kite flying competition

* 12 p.m.-6 p.m. Springfest Boat Show

* 2 p.m. Billy Joe Royal concert

* 8:30 p.m. Sha Na Na concert


* 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Springfest activities at the inlet

* 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Stunt-kite flying competition

* 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Antique Truck Show

* 12 p.m.-6 p.m. Springfest Boat Show

* 3:30 p.m. The Guess Who concert

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