Old Town Ocean City and the Wild Ponies of Assateague

There is something special for me about the “Old Town” part of Ocean City, Maryland. This is the area that roughly runs from the beginning of the boardwalk at the Life-Saving Museum at South 2nd Street up to 27th Street, and from the ocean out and over to the Coastal Highway.

In the old days, they use to call the boardwalk – “Atlantic Avenue.” I have plenty of fond memories of it to recall.

I’ve been going “down the Ocean,” every summer for a visit of a week or less, even before the late Mayor Harry W. Kelley took office (1970-85). (The bridge on Rt. 50 going into town is named in his honor.) I’ve noticed some changes over the years to Old Town, but mostly for the good. It’s cleaner-looking for sure, as is its beach. I like the fact that it has maintained its essential charming character from that bygone era.

The Mayor of Ocean City is the popular Rick Meehan. He’s a native of NYC, who grew up in Baltimore and graduated from my alma mater, the University of Baltimore. Meehan has been the Mayor since 2006, and by all accounts he’s doing a very good job.

So, earlier this week, I enjoyed a three-night-and-four-day stay in Old Town. My motel bordered on the inlet that connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Ocean City Bay. So everything that I wanted to see, with the exception of Assateague Island and/or a movie, was within walking distance.

For travel in town, just take the “B” Line, the Beach Bus, that runs from its station in Old Town up to 144th St. on the Coastal Highway. It only cost $3 for an all-day ticket. Trust me, it beats driving in all of that automobile traffic.

The tourists were out in full. Old Town was packed with families, with their children in tow, enjoying all the amenities of the summer season. This included the arcades, “The Pier,” the tons of amusement park rides, biking, the water and tram rides, and on and on. The kids particularly love strolling the boardwalk. It can be magical for them and also a great family bonding experience.

Naturally, I dove into the fast food the vendors were pushing on the boardwalk stores. My first strike was on a delicious crab cake. Some of the young workers at the sites were exchange students, here on a “Summer Work Travel” visa from sixty countries. Romania, Croatia, Slovenia, Turkey, Vietnam, Uzbekistan and Ireland were all in the mix. The students that I chatted with were all very happy for the experience to visit America.

I also soaked up the music coming from the solo violin and guitar players on the boardwalk. The guitar guy was blasting away with Johnny Denver’s popular ballad – “Country Roads.” Of course, I also bought myself an Ocean City T-shirt.

There was one dude on the boardwalk who was exceptional. He was dressed, rather painted, in gold! Really! At first, I thought it was a statue of some kind. Wrong! I waited for about 15 seconds or so. Then, he started gyrating. Amazing!

During the days, the beach, which for some reason looked larger than usual, had plenty of takers: swimmers; surf walkers; shower-takers; sun lovers; with soccer and volley ball games and kite flyers also getting in part of the action. The seagulls were in their glory. A sand sculpture artist showed off his skills with a respectful display of spotlighted “Jesus Crucified.” The tattoo shops were busy, too, with customers.

One morning, I enjoyed a boat ride on Ocean City’s bay, checking out all the fishing and sailing boats. Plenty of water sporting going on there, too, especially with the jet skis.

Another day, I drove over to the Assateague State Park to check out the wild ponies. That’s just a short hop back over the Kelley Bridge, on Rt. 50, then take a left at Rt. 611 and you are there. The ponies always make my trip to the Eastern Shore extra special.

Ocean City, Maryland is a treasure. It’s highly recommended.

With the 4th of July holiday coming up, you can expect thousands of travelers on Maryland roads. Some of them will be headed “down the ocean.” To learn more about Old Town Ocean City, and environs, and all the family fun that it has to offer, go to the website. 

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