Winterfest is sure to prepare visitors for holiday season

Santa mingles with crabs in Ocean City festivities

Outside

November 13, 2003|By Sarah Schaffer | Sarah Schaffer,SUN STAFF

Santa will sparkle next to twinkling crabs and marlins this weekend at Ocean City's 11th Annual Winterfest of Lights.

The weeks-long festival, which kicks off today at 5:30 p.m. in the town's Northside Park, will have a number of its traditional illuminated displays, plus some grand additions.

"There's always something new. They're always adding to the displays," said festival spokeswoman Donna Abbott.

Organizers have also improved the festival's layout this year, she said.

The park's 2003 celebration village, a decorated space where visitors can browse for holiday gifts, take a photo with Santa or sip hot chocolate, will for the first time be set up in a heated tent.

"It gets a little cold down there" at the site, commented Abbott, who said the newly enclosed space will add to visitors' comfort and "allow people to linger a little bit" longer this year.

After that lazy stroll through the toasty tent, revelers can take a ride on the Winterfest Express Train.

The 10-minute trip gives visitors a tour of the park's more than 800,000 lights, including massive scenes of eight flying reindeer, shining genies and illuminated toy soldiers.

And before heading home, Abbott said, visitors can cruise around the town for a look at Ocean City's other festive decorations.

A number of hotels and restaurants have holiday displays on their front properties, and a lighted display, called the Avenue of Trees, spans the median on Baltimore Avenue from 15th to 32nd streets. The inlet parking lot also boasts a tunnel of lights, while the nearby beach is filled with animated, lighted scenes.

The Winterfest of Lights runs through Jan. 2, and Santa will be at the village and available for pictures until Dec. 23.

Northside Park is at 127th Street and the bay, Ocean City. Hours are 5:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays and 5:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays. Admission for the train ride is $3 for children 12 and over. Free for those under 12. For more information, call the Ocean City Recreation and Parks Department at 410-250-0125 or visit www.oc ocean.com.

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