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Spring Block Party, Martin Z. Mollusk Day Highlight the Weekend

Spring Block Party, Martin Z. Mollusk Day Highlight the Weekend

By Mediawize, OCNJDAILY

One of Ocean City’s premier events – the Spring Block Party – will return to downtown Asbury Avenue from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 4.

But before that, beach lovers will check on the summer forecast. Ocean City’s hermit-crab mascot will seek his shadow in a local version of Groundhog Day at 11 a.m. Friday, May 3, on the beach at Ninth Street.

Martin Z. Mollusk has successfully predicted an early summer every year for five decades (sometimes, of course, with the creative use of flashlights by his handlers). Everybody is invited to join the fun as we collectively jump-start the long-awaited arrival of summer.

Special guest host will be meteorologist “Nor’easter” Nick Pittman. Martin Z. Mollusk will instruct Nor’easter Nick, who had the audacity to name himself after a common coastal storm, on the proper methods of weather forecasting and on the absence of inclement weather in Ocean City. The Cape Shore Chorus Sweet Adelines and a string band will provide musical accompaniment to the festivities.

The Martin Z. Mollusk Day tradition in Ocean City dates back to 1974, when legendary Ocean City Public Relations Director Mark Soifer created the early-season promotion by declaring that if Martin sees his shadow, summer will come a week early to Ocean City. Friday’s event will mark the 51st time that Martin has delivered good news.

An EMT checks Martin Z. Mollusk’s vital signs to make sure he can take all the excitement of the zany ceremony. (Photo courtesy of Ocean City)

On Saturday, more than 350 crafters, food vendors and entertainers will line a mile of downtown Asbury Avenue between Fifth Street and 14th Street for the annual Spring Block Party. The event helps draw tens of thousands of people to Ocean City for a pre-summer weekend of fun.

Entertainers and bands will perform at various spots along the Avenue between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Just a few of the perennial favorites the Robert Boney Band (7th Street), Big Daddy (9th Street), Pennsport String Band (13th Street) and Keith Hickman (14th Street).

Pony rides for children will be available on the grounds of the Ocean City Tabernacle (at Sixth Street and Asbury Avenue) from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Vendors including Asbury Avenue restaurants will offer food of every variety.

Street parking will be free at all metered spots and downtown parking lots in Ocean City, including at the Transportation Center lot (Ninth Street and Haven Avenue) and at the municipal lots on the 700 and 800 blocks of Central Avenue. For more information on parking, visit

The weekend celebration also includes table sales by downtown and Boardwalk merchants with discounted merchandise set up between Sixth Street and 14th Street on the Boardwalk and Asbury Avenue on both Saturday and Sunday.


The Ocean City Arts Center will present an exciting weekend of music on Friday and Saturday (May 3 and 4) with free performances in the Chris Maloney Lecture Hall at the Ocean City Free Public Library (1735 Simpson Avenue)

Valerie Vaughn will perform at the Community Center. (Photo courtesy of Ocean City)

On Friday at 6:30 p.m., a Junior Jazz Battle Royal will feature The Happy Accidentals (of Egg Harbor Township High School) and The Deptford Jazz Ensemble of (Deptford High School).

The concert will follow in the tradition of the Battle of the Bands, an 20th century concert staple in which two popular orchestras would try to outperform one another in front of a live audience, such as the first time the Count Basie Orchestra and the Duke Ellington Orchestra came together in 1961.

That historic meeting, later referred to in jazz circles as “The Battle Royal,” has been recreated through live performances by other jazz orchestras and ensembles over the years, including on the stage of the 2011 edition of the Jazz à Vienne festival. With this “Junior Jazz Battle Royal,” Ocean City will come alive with the sound of some of jazz’s future stars facing off, not in competition, but in synergy.

The Happy Accidentals performed at the recent Berks Jazz Fest in Reading, Pa. The Deptford Jazz Ensemble won Best Jazz Band in their division in 2023’s N.J. Association for Jazz Education’s annual competition.

On Saturday at 2 p.m., the Arts Center will present the folk music and musical storytelling of New Jersey Troubadour Valerie Vaughn. This songwriter has a distinguished career performing throughout New Jersey, regionally and at the Kennedy Center.  She has shared the stage with legendary Pete Seeger and spun musical tales in England.

Her evocative songs earned the Ocean County Commission’s Special Award and the Pine Barrens Festival Award for preserving “the culture, heritage, and natural beauty” of the Pinelands.

Vaughn is from Tuckerton and is one of the five South Jersey recipients of New Jersey State Council of the Arts’ inaugural New Jersey Heritage Fellowships. This program is made possible in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Jazz Battle and Valerie Vaughn shows are both free and open to the public, but reservations are strongly suggested and can be made online at or by calling 609-399-7628.

The Happy Accidentals. (Photo courtesy of Ocean City)


MAY 11 – Roadster Rally: Roadsters of all makes and models will be on display from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Boardwalk from 6th Street to 14th Street. For more information or to register your Roadster, visit or email

MAY 19 – OCNJ Triathlon/Duathlon: Quarter-mile pool swim, 2M Run/16M Bike/2M Run. Plus, a kids’ course 1/8-mile swim, 1m run/8m bike/1m run. Pool Swim 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Run/Bike/Run starts 9 a.m.

MAY 24 – Unlocking of the Ocean and Business Persons Plunge: Participants dress in business suits, carry briefcases and march into the ocean to the strains of Pomp and Circumstance to welcome the new season. Noon at 9th Street Beach.

MAY 25 – Memorial Beach Challenge for 31 Heroes: The obstacle course challenge is a soft sand adventure race followed by a kids’ fun run. Staging at 9th Street Beach. For registration information, visit or call 856-905-0583.

MAY 27 – Memorial Day Service: 11 a.m. at Veteran’s Memorial Park, between 5th Street and 6th Street on Wesley Avenue.

MAY 27 – National Moment of Remembrance: Americans, wherever they are at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day, pause in an act of national unity for a duration of one minute. The moment of remembrance will take place on the Boardwalk.

Participants in the Business Persons Plunge take their ceremonial dip in 2023.