By MediaWize, OCNJDAILY
Ocean City’s popular New Year’s Eve event will return for the 30th time this year, and families throughout the region are ready to celebrate.
First Night offers 40 different shows and activities at 23 different venues throughout town.
The lineup includes entertainment to satisfy every taste and age group. A fireworks display rings in the new year at midnight. The fun continues on New Year’s Day with a 5-kilometer run on the Boardwalk and the First Plunge in the Atlantic Ocean.
Spend “Saturday in the Park” and catch “Saturday Night Fever” at the Music Pier on Saturday, Dec. 31 as the Music Pier features the Bee Gees tribute band Stayin Alive and the high-energy Chicago tribute band Brass Transit as headline entertainment. The Civic Center will feature more classic rock with “Captain Jack: The Ultimate Live Billy Joel Tribute.”
The return of perennial favorites like outdoor ice-skating, Boardwalk rides, magic shows, the Harlem Wizards, Japanese drummers, the Ocean City Pops, and a variety of other musical performances also highlight the entertainment lineup.
Here’s a guide to how to enjoy First Night and First Day in Ocean City.
WHEN: First Night events run 4 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, Dec. 31. The First Day 5K starts at 1 p.m. and the First Plunge goes off at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 1.
ADMISSION BUTTONS: Buttons ($20) are good for all events. Children under age 2 are free. Buttons are on sale now.
Online: Visit firstnightocnj.com. By phone: Call 609-399-6111.
At our City Hall Welcome Center at 861 Asbury Avenue (9th Street entrance): 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (except 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Christmas Eve, closed on Christmas Day, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Dec. 26, and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve).
At the Roy Gillian Welcome Center (9th Street causeway): 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays to Fridays.
At the 46th Street Welcome Center (4500 block of West Avenue): 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Mondays (except 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Christmas Eve, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Dec. 26). Closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Pickup at will-call will be available daily at the City Hall Welcome Center (Ninth Street entrance). Button sales and will-call pickup will be at the City Hall Welcome Center 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. on the day of the event (Dec. 31).
FULL SCHEDULE: The full schedule of events and activities and a printable grid is available at firstnightocnj.com.
PARKING AND TRANSPORTATION: All municipal parking lots and metered parking spots are free. Jitneys will provide free transportation from 5 p.m. until 12:30 a.m. for button-holders, operating continuously between all venues starting at the Ocean City Transportation Center (Ninth Street and Haven Avenue) and Seventh Street Parking Lot (Seventh Street and Central Ave.).
For a route map and complete information, visit the guide page at firstnightocnj.com.
DINING AND SHOPPING: Food and drink will be for sale at Ocean City High School, Wonderland Pier (6th Street Pizza and Grill) and Ocean City Community Center (at the cafe) with snack stands at St. Peter’s United Methodist Church.
KICKOFF: Everybody is invited to the Ocean City Music Pier at 3:45 p.m. for the official ribbon-cutting to open the 30th anniversary of the festivities.
OTHER FUN ACTIVITIES: Stop by the Music Pier to see the First Night ice sculpture. Interactive photo booths will be set up in the Ocean City High School cafeteria, the Community Center and the Civic Center.
HISTORY: First Night in Ocean City was modeled after an alcohol-free New Year’s Eve celebration in Boston that marked the nation’s bicentennial in 1976. The first celebration in Ocean City in 1992 included 25 entertainment acts in five different locations with admission buttons selling for $8 ($5 before Dec. 26).
About 800 buttons were sold. While other First Night events have faded, Ocean City’s has only grown more popular, with families making it an annual tradition for a safe New Year’s Eve.
Today, attendance is capped at 10,000, with admission buttons selling out year after year. Through the years, the event has been sustained by the selfless dedication of volunteers, board members and sponsors.
SPONSORS: City of Ocean City, Cape May County Division of Culture and Heritage (Funding for First Night has been made possible in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Cape May County Board of County Commissioners through the Cape May County Division of Culture & Heritage Re-Grant Program), Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce, Ocean City Free Public Library, Gillian’s Wonderland Pier, McMahon Insurance Agency, Henry’s Landmark Jeweler, Atlantic City Electric, and Sturdy Savings Bank.
FIRST DAY AT THE BEACH
BOARDWALK RUN: A 5-kilometer run starts at 1 p.m. in front of the Ocean City Music Pier. Race-day registration begins 11 a.m. at the Music Pier at Moorlyn Terrace. First Day blankets will be given all who pre-register and while supplies last.
Race day entry fee is $35 ($25 if you register by Dec. 24 and $30 if you register by Dec. 30). For full information, links to online registration and printable forms, visit www.ocnj.us/race-events.
FIRST PLUNGE: The ocean plunge starts at 2 p.m. on the beach adjacent to the Music Pier (on the Eighth Street side). Participants should register inside the Music Pier before heading to the beach. Registration is free, but all participants must sign a waiver. First Day At The Beach shirts will be on sale at the Music Pier.
SHOPPING EXTRAVAGANZA: There will be an all-day shopping extravaganza with discounts at stores on Asbury Avenue and the Boardwalk from 5th to 14th Streets.
Free horse-drawn carriage rides on downtown Asbury Avenue will be available noon to 3 p.m. on Jan. 1. Board at Sixth Street and Asbury Avenue.