OCEAN CITY -- Water-logged from a cool, rainy spring, an army of beachgoers yesterday sought fun under the sun as the mercury soared to 87 degrees.
Lured by the aroma of caramel corn and pizza, they strolled along the boardwalk. Enticed by the sun, they bathed on the beach, oblivious to any medical concerns about the harmful effects of soaking up too many rays.
"It's picture perfect today," said Bill Over, a sales manager from Alexandria, Va., who spent the day at the beach. "You couldn't have asked for a better day. It's beautiful."
Mr. Over and his family visited Ocean City last weekend when the weather was "real nasty. [The rain] wouldn't let up," he said.
An estimated 300,000 people were expected in the state's premier resort this Memorial Day weekend, the traditional kickoff of the summer season.
Partly sunny skies are forecast for today with a chance of afternoon showers. High temperatures in the mid-70s and lows around 50 are expected. The Memorial Day forecast is gloomier: Cloudy and cool with a chance of showers.
"I think we've had a few more people here this weekend than previous Memorial Day weekends," said Sgt. Jay Hancock, an Ocean City police spokesman. "That's based on my observations of people on the boardwalk and traffic coming in."
The Ocean City Beach Patrol, whose lifeguards staff some 70 stands along 10 miles of shoreline, reported beach crowds were moderate to heavy.
"The beaches are crowded, but not outrageous," said Gil Nyland, a dispatcher. "They're not like what we see in July and August."
The day's only serious accident occurred about 1 p.m. when a motorboat capsized in the ocean surf near 24th Street, injuring six people.
Too many occupants were aboard the 20-foot boat, said Betty Leidner, a marina owner who leased the boat to two men. Charges are pending an investigation by the Maryland Natural Resources Police.
Five men were treated at the Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Ocean City and released. A woman was admitted with a possible broken leg.
The driver of the boat, Thomas Diggs, 25, of Baltimore, was not injured, according to Nancy Howard, a spokeswoman for DNR's Eastern Shore.
Ocean City police reported 31 arrests overnight, two involving juveniles. Most of the arrests were alcohol-related, police said.
"It's basically our normal having-an-excessively-good-time arrests," Sergeant Hancock said.
No major traffic accidents were reported.
Enjoying the unofficial start of summer was first on the agenda of most visitors yesterday.
Mr. Over's son, Nick, squeezed in a slew of activities, including miniature golf, a boardwalk stroll, amusement rides, pizza on the beach and swimming.
"It's a lot better than the cold [last weekend]," he said.
Weekend activities included traditional summer events, such as "The Original Hot Body Competition," staged at the Princess Royale Oceanfront Hotel and Conference Center.
Taking the stage, a bare-chested and blond-haired Randy Sroka of Crofton received wolf whistles and applause.
Although the 6-year-old didn't win the "Kute Kids Kontest," he and several other contestants walked away with a bucket of salt water taffy. His father, Ron, suggested Randy enter the contest, but the first-grader wasn't persuaded until he learned first prize was a free ticket to the Jolly Roger Amusement Park.