Easter weekend at the beach Resort promises to be hopping with holiday activities

April 04, 1993|By JoAnne C. Broadwater | JoAnne C. Broadwater,Contributing Writer

Well before dawn on Easter Sunday, early morning worshipers bundled in blankets will gather on the boardwalk in Ocean City to sing, pray and watch the sun rise over the surf -- just as they have almost every Easter for more than 50 years.

Led by a handful of ministers from the resort's local churches, Ocean City's ecumenical Easter sunrise religious services have been a tradition here since 1939.

"It's just wonderful to see the sun come up out of the ocean and to worship together with all of our Ocean City folks," says Matilda Burbage, a member of the St. Paul's by the Sea Episcopal Church, who sang in the choir in 1939 and almost every year since. "We've always been ecumenically minded here in Ocean City."

This year's service, which will begin at 6 a.m. on the boardwalk at South Division Street, will feature music provided by a combined choir from the town's participating churches.

"It's a community event that brings all of the churches together," says June Todd, director of music at the Atlantic United Methodist Church and leader of the sunrise service choir. "I'm always pleased to be able to do it. It's really a very moving experience."

The sunrise service is only one of many events planned around the town for the Easter holiday weekend.

"Ocean City is really a small town and we celebrate Easter the old-fashioned way," says Martha Clements, director of public relations for the resort. "It's a very festive time. We normally have beautiful beach weather, the Easter bunny is everywhere and it's a good way to start the summer. I think everyone has cabin fever by Easter."

The spring holiday is something of a landmark date for Ocean City as the town gets ready for its busy summer season. Most local businesses will be open, the boardwalk train will make its usual runs and the miniature golf courses will be ready for putters.

More than 100,000 visitors are expected in town for the holiday weekend, and many of the local hotels will have Easter weekend package deals, including Easter Sunday brunches.

"What I really enjoy is the sunrise service," said Ocean City Mayor Roland "Fish" Powell. "I really look forward to it. We all get up early for that. I also like to take my grandchildren to some of the Easter egg hunts. And if it's a pretty day, I'll take a walk on the boardwalk. Easter is kind of the beginning of the season here."

For those who want a taste of tradition along with their boardwalk fries, taffy and caramel popcorn, there will also be plenty of Easter eggs to be found around town. Egg hunts will be held on Friday and Saturday along with Easter promenades, egg dyeing and a hayride.

"It's a very happy time," said Jim Whittemore, general manager of the Gold Coast Mall on 115th Street and Coastal Highway, where the weekend's events will begin Friday afternoon. "The weather is usually very good and you can do things that you like to do in the summer."

Indoors at the mall on Friday, there will be Easter egg hunts for children throughout the afternoon. Local boardwalk puppeteer Jim Starck will entertain. Look for forms for a coloring contest in the mall. Entries must be submitted by 1 p.m. Sunday; winners will be announced at 3 p.m.

Also on Sunday, mall-goers wearing their Easter finest may participate in an old-fashioned Easter promenade and compete for the honor of "Best-Dressed." Registration will be held between 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m., when the judging will begin. All of the mall activities are free.

An Easter Bunny Fun Shop sponsored by the Ocean City Recreation and Parks Department will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon at the Northside Park Recreation Complex, which is located a few blocks from the mall at 125th Street on the bay.

Featured will be carnival games, arts and crafts, egg dyeing, an egg hunt, refreshments and a hayride. Parents are invited to take a camera for pictures with the Easter bunny. The cost is $5 for children over age 2 and registration is required. Call (410) 250-0125 to request a registration form. In-person registration will be held Friday.

For a bit of not-so-traditional Easter-weekend entertainment, stop by the 11th annual Ocean City Spring Arts & Crafts Show. It will open at the Ocean City Convention Center (40th Street and Coastal Highway) Saturday and continue through Sunday and will feature the work of more than 70 regional exhibitors. Admission is free.

"It's a great place to find something fresh for your home for the summer," said Ms. Clements. "There are lots of summery things at the show. There's spring jewelry, stuffed bunnies, beach T-shirts and lots of other really great sea-related things. It's kind of fun just to browse through the show."

And the whole family is invited to a free performance by an area ballet company at 7:30 p.m. Saturday on the upper level of the convention center.

EASTER EVENTS

Friday, April 9

* At the Gold Coast Mall,115th Street and Coastal Highway:

12:30 p.m. Easter-egg hunt for ages 2-4.

1:30 p.m. Puppet show featuring "The Puppet Man" Jim Starck.

2:30 p.m. Easter-egg hunt for ages 5-7.

3:30 p.m. Puppet show.

4:30 p.m. Easter-egg hunt for ages 8-11.

Saturday, April 10

* At the Ocean City Convention Center, 40th Street and Coastal Highway:

11 a.m.-6 p.m. Arts and crafts show. Admission free.

7:30 p.m. Family ballet performance. Admission free.

* At the Northside Park Recreation Complex, 125th Street on the bay:

2-4 p.m. Easter Bunny Fun Shop. Admission charge. Registration required.

Sunday, April 11

* On the boardwalk at South Division Street:

6 a.m. Ocean City Easter Sunrise Service. If it rains, the service will be held indoors at the Ocean City Convention Center.

* At the Ocean City Convention Center:

11 a.m.-4 p.m. Arts and crafts show. Admission free.

* At the Gold Coast Mall, 115th Street:

12:30 p.m. Registration for "Best-Dressed" contest begins.

1 p.m. Deadline for entries in coloring contest.

2 p.m. Judging begins for "Best-Dressed" contest.

3 p.m. Winners of coloring contest announced.

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