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An end-of-summer love letter to Ocean City

Ocean City, Maryland in the height of the summer season. A lot of vacationing Baltimore residents are likely in view.
Ocean City, Maryland in the height of the summer season. A lot of vacationing Baltimore residents are likely in view. (Chris Parypa Photography/Shutterstock.com)

Maybe it’s the melancholia of school’s return, the waning of summer’s bright sunny days or a lingering regret that we didn’t visit the beach quite often enough, but we feel a need to tell the good people of Ocean City that we love their beachfront town. The Baltimore area’s connection to that Atlantic Ocean resort is no small thing. When Baltimoreans say they’re going “downy oshun,” for vacation they’re not talking about New Jersey. Even Delaware resorts like Rehoboth Beach and Bethany Beach are back-up options more likely to attract those D.C. area elites. Thrasher’s french fries, Dumser’s Dairyland ice cream and The Dough Roller pizza are the tastes of summer just as skee ball at Marty’s Playland or the Big Merry-Go-Round at Trimper’s are its guilty pleasures.

Still, our affections have been called into question. Recently, the publisher of The Dispatch and Maryland Coast Dispatch, sister newspapers that have long served Ocean City and other nearby resort communities, wrote a note to his readers suggesting The Baltimore Sun was not a fan. It takes a lot to wound the pride of your typical editorial board member (our skin thickness is generally measured by the yard, not the fraction of an inch), but his criticism that The Sun “likes to blast Ocean City while promoting beach resorts in Delaware and New Jersey” cut deep. So here we are pledging our fealty to the town that prior to 1870 was commonly referred to as “The Ladies Resort to the Ocean.” (A matter of historic record wholly unrelated to our argument but bizarre enough to be worth mentioning).

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We understand where second generation Dispatch publisher Steven Green is coming from given our recently expressed preference for not building a third Chesapeake Bay Bridge (“The best place for a new Bay Bridge? Nowhere,” Aug. 28). In recent years, The Sun has more than once criticized the Ocean City’s elected leaders for not being sufficiently supportive of off-shore wind power given the impact of climate change on their community and we’ve knocked Gov. Larry Hogan and his faithful lapdog, Comptroller Peter Franchot, for insisting all public schools start after Labor Day to accommodate Ocean City’s labor needs. We still find that last one a classic case of a tail wagging the dog given the importance of public education in this state, not to mention the challenge of finding day care the week before Labor Day. Of course, we’ve also praised Ocean City’s efforts to improve pedestrian safety and even thought the mid-block fencing on Coastal Highway intended to reduce jaywalking was a fine idea even as many local residents and vacationers alike spoke out against such inconvenience.

This kind of robust critique of public officials is, well, kind of what we do. And if Mayor Rick Meehan or members of the Ocean City Council think we’re too tough on them, they might want to run that by Baltimore’s last several mayors including Catherine Pugh who found herself on the wrong side of a “Healthy Holly” scandal resigning from office just months after the questionable book deal was first reported by The Sun. Baltimore, its violent crime, poverty, government corruption and the rest, get reported every day in our pages. It doesn’t mean we prefer Philadelphia which is a perfectly nice city (especially if you’re into extreme wealth gaps and woefully underfunded public schools), but it’s not home.

So we thought this might be a good moment to send our own little note to Ocean City and remind everyone down on the boardwalk that we’re thinking of them and would really prefer to spend more time there but, you know, we’ve got these jobs and chores and kids and stuff. We thought of you this week as Hurricane Dorian moved north and were relieved to hear that it was destined to only give a glancing blow. And so we will leave you with the words of John Dyer, the nonagenarian Baltimore native whom Mayor Meehan recently awarded a key to the city (along with his wife Kitty) for being such loyal devotees. "It’s just a great place to be,” the father of six and grandfather of 15 told a Dispatch reporter.

We agree completely. Of course, it would also be nice if the mayor and council would get on board that off-shore wind project and not stress out about turbines that can barely be seen on the horizon but hey, who’s perfect?

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