First Day Events Draw Summer-Like Crowds on Jan. 1

first_imgThousands of visitors jammed the beach and boardwalk in Ocean City on Thursday to celebrate New Year’s Day at the beach.Ocean City’s First Day celebration included a 5-kilometer boardwalk run/walk that drew a record field of about 700 (see results and photos) and the annual First Dip in the Atlantic Ocean that saw an estimated 1,000 hardy souls plunge into the 42-degree water (see our photo gallery).Ocean City Public Relations Director Mark Soifer said about 550 signed waivers for the First Dip, and he estimated another 500 participated in the plunge without signing.First Day is part of a celebration that also includes First Night, an evening of family entertainment and activities at multiple venues throughout Ocean City on New Year’s Eve. First Night was attended by 9,400 this year (see story and video)._____Sign up for free daily news updates from Ocean City._____First day events for the first time were sponsored by the HERO Campaign promoting the use of designated drivers — a natural fit for the nonalcoholic celebrations in the family resort.HERO Campaign Chairman Bill Elliott was on hand to watch race and plunge participants sign designated driver pledges, make voluntary contributions and receive commemorative HERO Campaign shirts.The Hero Campaign was established in memory of Elliott’s son, Navy Ensign John Elliott of Egg Harbor Township. Elliott was killed in a head-on-collision with a drunken driver on July 22, 2000, two months after graduating with merit from the United States Naval Academy. He was driving home for his mother’s birthday celebration at the time of his death.last_img read more