Officially, summer doesn't arrive for another month. But for all practical purposes, the summer solstice arrives long after the fun begins. In these parts, summer starts when traffic backs up at the Bay Bridge and the boardwalk in Ocean City comes alive.
This weekend, Ocean City expects a quarter-million visitors (and their wallets). Beach replenishment programs and road projects have cost the state a tidy sum, but OC tourism is a profitable business. Last Memorial Day, beach visitors spent $144.4 million during the holiday weekend alone.
Of course, a beach visit is not the only way to kick off the summer season -- in fact, if every Marylander decided to head to the ocean, the traffic tie-ups would last all weekend. But there's something special about sun and surf, something thousands of Marylanders will recapture this weekend as they continue the tradition of kicking off summertime by heading "downey ocean."