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Hundreds arrive at Ocean City for Dew Tour

The boardwalk was busier than usual Thursday, as hundreds of action sports fans came to catch skaters, BMX riders and surfers participate in the Dew Tour competition.

John Harnell, an 18-year-old skater who was watching professional skaters practice at the just-built skate bowl on the boardwalk's south end, said nothing like this had ever happened in all the years he's been vacationing in Ocean City.

"Every summer, it's just surf and work. There's nothing of this magnitude — just a few car shows," he said. "It's sick it came here because there are only four stops."

Over the course of the four-day event, crowds are expected to swell to more than 300,000 in Ocean City, as many as there were on Independence Day, said mayor Rick Meehan.

The Dew Tour, which began six years ago, takes place at four different cities every summer. This year, besides Ocean City, it's going to Portland in August, Salt Lake City in September, and Las Vegas in October.

One of the contests was held at Camden Yards in Baltimore in 2007 and 2008, when it drew an announced 52,502 spectators.

But this is the first time it's been held at a resort town.

"We were looking for a different look and feel for the venue," said Chris Prybylo, the tour's general manager.

Ocean City and Virginia Beach were the two finalists for the contest, Prybylo said, but ultimately organizers decided Ocean City's beach was the right size to accommodate the three stages — a skate bowl, a BMX course, and an 80-foot-long half vertical ramp — that would have to be built.

Prybylo said the local government's support also made it more inviting than the Virginia location. Ocean City waived the $3,000 in fees it would normally require to set up such an operation on the beach, said Donna Abbott, a spokeswoman for the city.

Meehan said the fees were waived because the Dew Tour organizers volunteered to clean up the beach after the event was over, and because the event was expected to bring significant revenue to the town.

The Dew Tour did pay about $1,950 in fees for permit applications, banner placements and use of the Dorchester St. parking lot, Abbott said.

Events, including skating, BMX and surfing competitions and a concert by rapper Kid Cudi, are scheduled through Sunday.

Canadian skater Jean-Luc Gagnon has been competing in the Dew Tour for about six years. He was glad for the change of venue, which usually takes place indoors, like last year at Boston's Banknorth Garden, where the Bruins and the Celtics play.

"It's good to switch it up," he said. "They should do two stops indoors, two outdoors."

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