OCEAN CITY -- While Memorial Day weekend meant the start of vacations for many people, yesterday marked the first day of work for 21-year-old David Morris -- as a new member of the
Ocean City Beach Patrol.
Wrapped in his official red sweats and perched atop a wooden stand at 35th Street, the Essex Community College student scanned the crowded beach and the nearly empty surf.
"I'm not that nervous right now," he said. "They trained us really hard, and I feel like I learned everything.
"I'll be fine."
With more than half of his first daylong shift behind him, Mr. Morris said he'd rate the first day of the holiday weekend "a 10."
Sunshine and temperatures hovering around 90 degrees seemed to have a soothing effect on the hundreds of thousands of visitors drawn to the sea to welcome Summer 1991.
Those from the Baltimore area could have stayed home if it was hot weather they sought: Temperatures here reached a high of 94 in the area at midafternoon, four degrees hotter than the record for the date, set in 1981. And more warm weather, with a chance of afternoon or evening thunderstorms, was forecast for today.
Ocean City police, paramedics, the Beach Patrol and Coast Guard all reported a hectic day yesterday but no major problems.
"It's been great," said Beach Patrol Lt. Warren Williams, who admitted he usually prays for rain on the Memorial Day weekend to give his crew time to reach summer strength.
"There are a lot of people here, and it's a perfect day for thbeach," Lieutenant Williams said.
"But we have more guards on duty this year than we've ever had this early. And the water's still cool, in the 60s, so not too many people are swimming."
The problems handled by the patrol proved no worse than cut feet and sunburn.
"It's the kind of things we expect on Memorial Day weekend, without the serious incidents that sometimes occur," Sgt. Jay Hancock, a police department spokesman, said of the beach season opener.
About 65 people were arrested Friday night, Sergeant Hancock said -- most for such minor offenses as public drunkenness and )) disorderly conduct. Sergeant Hancock reported no major traffic accidents or violent incidents.
Ocean City's crowded waterways were also largely free of drama, authorities said.
"There's a lot of boaters out there right now," Coast Guard Petty Officer Keith Hessler reported. He said the Coast Guard had answered a few distress calls from boaters grounded in the shallow waters of Isle of Wight and had located a few "overdues" -- people who had set off panic among friends by not arriving when expected.
Some Ocean City merchants seemed reluctant to jinx the rest o the holiday by bestowing too much praise on Day One. But Mike Jones, general manager of the Jolly Roger Amusement Park, was glowing.
"It's unbelievable," he said. "Everybody's smiling. The water park has a long line, people are playing golf, riding go-carts, riding rides."
The perfect weather was the finishing touch at the Princess Royale on 91st Street, which celebrated its grand opening this weekend.
General Manager David L. Fincannon, who has been frantically preparing the new luxury hotel for the season, welcomed a capacity crowd.
"Everything is open. Our beach is full, our sun deck is full, our bars are full," he said thankfully. "Things are great."