By MADDY VITALE, OCNJDaily
Each holiday season, Ocean City welcomes visitors to the downtown to enjoy shops and restaurants with the added touch of old-fashioned charm that turns a day of gift-buying into a nostalgic escape.
Large wreaths, bright red bows, garland-wrapped lamp posts and other accents create the holiday scene. City Hall, built in 1923, becomes even grander, with wreaths on the windows and adornments at each entrance of the historic landmark.
The Ninth Street corridor is transformed into a bygone era with vintage-like décor and the 34th Street gateway to the island has its own style with trees decorated in holiday lights.
“It is one of the great annual traditions in Ocean City,” Michael Allegretto, aide to Mayor Jay Gillian, said of the city’s holiday decorations going up. “It creates a lot of excitement that the holidays are coming.”
The Music Pier and the Welcome Centers throughout town are also festively decorated. Allegretto said that the city also planned to decorate the recently remodeled Sports & Civic Center at Sixth Street and the Boardwalk.
“The decorations really have that old-fashioned Christmas charm that makes us all feel like kids again,” Allegretto added.
The decorations go up shortly before the kickoff to the holiday shopping season. This Saturday is “Earlier than the Bird,” a shopping extravaganza from 8 a.m. to noon when people can shop in their pajamas and get some early-bird shopping specials and is the official start to the season.
Horse and carriage rides also begin to create a real traditional feel.
The following weekend, on Nov. 26, is Christmas in the Downtown, also called “Our Miracle on Asbury Avenue.”
Santa will make his appearance and greet the crowd, courtesy of the Ocean City Fire Department, which will be on hand with a ladder truck in case Santa decides to land atop City Hall.
The city began dressing up the downtown with the traditional-style decorations people see today back in 2012. It was, in part, to help lift the spirits after Superstorm Sandy hit on Oct. 29, 2012, officials said.
“Ocean City used a $129,000 grant in 2012 to purchase the wreaths, bows, swags and lights that adorn Ocean City for the holidays,” Ocean City Public Information Officer Doug Bergen said.
Since then, the decorations have become an important tradition for the city, he noted.
“That first year took on special meaning as Superstorm Sandy struck on Oct. 29 and caused extensive damage in the downtown,” Bergen explained. “The decorations came to represent Ocean City’s resiliency and recovery from the storm.”