By MADDY VITALE
Spectacular weather, easing of COVID-19 restrictions and pristine, wide beaches made for the best beach season in Ocean City in years.
While the 2020 pandemic made for a slow start to the season last year, the city still had a formidable year of beach tag sales.
But this year was phenomenal, city officials said.
“Even amid all of the pandemic restrictions last summer, Ocean City fared very well,” Ocean City Public Information Officer Doug Bergen said Monday. “But this year, everybody was more than ready to get back to normal, and by all accounts, it was an exceptional season.”
The Boardwalk was packed.
Families came down for day trips, weeklong vacations and residents had their share of staycations to enjoy what is literally in their backyard — wide, sandy beaches and warm water.
Coupled with entertainment, dining, shopping and amusements, the resort was the place to be this summer.
“Beach tag revenue for 2021 broke an all-time record at $4,211,000,” Bergen explained.
The previous record was from 2015 at $4,178,000. The summer of 2020 came in at $3,833,000, Bergen noted.
Beach tag revenue covers the cost of keeping the beaches clean, employing lifeguards, hiring summer police officers, and paying for the city’s share of beach replenishment projects in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
While the beaches and Boardwalk were bustling, so were the city parking lots and meter parking as vacationers flocked to the shore.
“We won’t have final numbers for parking revenue until next month — after the season ends,” Bergen said.
He continued, “But as of Aug. 31, we were on record pace at about $3 million. That was a little above where we stood at the same point in 2019, the current record, and well above that point in 2020 of $2.2 million.”
Ocean City annually leads all New Jersey shore towns in beach tag sales because of its sheer size.
The city’s 7-mile-long beachfront is much bigger than neighboring towns, allowing it to handle enormous crowds.