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Decorations Transform Downtown into Winter Wonderland

Decorations Transform Downtown into Winter Wonderland
By mvitale, OCNJDaily

Ever wonder what it would be like to slip onto the set of a Hallmark Christmas movie and stroll along while window shopping, sipping hot chocolate and listening to holiday music?

Well, you don’t have to head to some movie set in California or New York for that matter.

Just go to Asbury Avenue in Ocean City. There, you will find it is no movie set. There are no actors, only Christmas cheer, holiday shopping galore with specials to boot, and enough red bows, wreaths and old-fashioned lantern streetlights wrapped in garland to make even the most bah-humbug person smile and feel a bit of good spirit during the special time of year.

People browsed the shops and walked along the festive avenue peering into store windows.

Cathy-Jo Deamer and Lana Wydra, both of Scotia, New York, shop on colorfully decorated Asbury Avenue.

Friends Lana Wydra and Cathy-Jo Deamer, both of Scotia, New York, said they make trips to Ocean City in the fall a yearly tradition.

They were spending the weekend in town.

“There is still so much to do,” Wydra said Saturday.

The friends just started their shopping rounds and already had bags filled with goodies, including some early Christmas gifts.

“The decorations are beautiful,” Deamer exclaimed. “It really looks like a fairy tale.”

Michele Gillian, executive director of the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the downtown offers so much during the holiday season.

“How lucky we are to live in Ocean City. One minute the downtown is hosting the best Halloween parade in the region thanks to the efforts of the Exchange Club,” Gillian said.

She continued, “A few days later, Santa’s elves were on the job getting Ocean City ready for Christmas and the holiday season decorating the town. Ocean City truly is a magical wonderland during the holiday season.”

City Hall is decked out with wreaths on every window.

Gillian pointed out that there are so many activities going on up until New Year’s Day in Ocean City, beginning with the annual pre-Thanksgiving shopping tradition called “Earlier than the Bird,” from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Nov. 23.

Then there is the Christmas in the Downtown extravaganza — known as “Our Miracle on Asbury Avenue” — the day after Thanksgiving, where there will be photos with Santa, free horse, and carriage rides and music.

The calendar is full of events for the entire holiday season through New Year’s.

It isn’t any surprise, after taking a stroll down Asbury Avenue, that Ocean City was named in one survey as one of the top 10 most magical destinations in New Jersey to visit during the holiday season, Gillian explained.

“I urge everyone to visit downtown, shop local and most of all enjoy the magic of the Christmas and holiday season,” Gillian said.

Karina Rojas, of Ocean City, keeps up with her daughter, Renata, 6 while getting some good deals on gifts.

Karina Rojas, of Ocean City, and her 6-year-old daughter, Renata, had their plan to shop Saturday.

“This is the best part of the year,” Karina said. “The decorations, they look so nice.”

“I love them,” Renata said of the holiday decorations.

The mother-daughter duo had some lunch, stopped in a shop to buy a jacket and a dress and then browsed the shops along the avenue.

While some shoppers traveled from afar to visit Ocean City, and others shopped in their hometown, Melissa Mezicco, of Philadelphia, took her children, Kara, 15, and A.J., 11, and her mom, Charlotte Betteridge, on a surprise trip to Ocean City for the day.

Charlotte Betteridge, in back, her daughter Melissa Mezicco, with her children, A.J. and Kara, all of Philadelphia, do some shopping.

“It’s A.J. and Kara’s birthdays this week, so I decided we should take a road trip here,” Mezicco said. “We went to breakfast at Uncle Bill’s Pancake House and now we are doing some birthday shopping.”

Kara and A.J. were more interested in some of the gifts they selected for their big days.

A.J. got a Godzilla poster and Kara proudly showed off her new journal.

The surprise jaunt to the family resort was a welcome surprise for the kids, they said. The festive decorations were an added bonus.

“This is the first time we came down over the holidays. We never saw the decorations before,” Melissa said. “It really looks nice.”

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Ninth Street bustles with shoppers and strollers.