Sunday, May 2, 2010

Spring Block Party in Ocean City, NJ

We could hear the music for blocks before we ever arrived at the Spring Block Party along Asbury Avenue in Ocean City (NJ). Guests of the Scarborough Inn Bed and Breakfast are just a short stroll away from this annual street fair and many plan to come specifically for this event. From the inn, walk north on Ocean Avenue until you reach Fifth Street, turn left to Asbury Avenue, and join the throng!

Asbury Avenue is the retail heart of the island and is lined with a wide variety of shops and restaurants. This time of year, enormous pots of seasonal flowers line the sidewalks and newly-installed and more-stylish streetlights contribute to the pleasing ambiance. An allee of trees was planted along Eighth Street last summer and adds color and shade along this corridor from the Downtown to the Boardwalk so this is the perfect neighborhood for a street fair. The weather cooperated, too - sunny and with temperatures near 80 but with a breeze off the ocean to keep things comfortable.

Ocean City is a very "walkable" small town and never more so than during a Block Party when Asbury Avenue is closed to vehicular traffic from Fifth Street to Fourteenth Street (about a mile). Vendor's booths line both sides of the street displaying their wares or offering tempting snacks. Stroll along having a lemonade here, shrimp on a skewer there, smokey barbecued pork next, and homemade cookies for dessert. You walk off the calories almost immediately, too!

And, of course, there's the SHOPPING! Booths display ubiquitous crafts, jewelry, silk flower arrangements, and knick-knacks of every variety. We discovered a local photographer, Rick Schiffer, who specializes in views of Ocean City and environs. His photos of shorebirds wading in the surf at sunrise were especially beautiful and evocative. One booth featured unique hand-crafted pottery from Nicaragua which featured stylized motifs from nature or detailed geometric patterns. The pieces are expertly crafted three-dimensional works of art. Another table featured a preview of a new emporium featuring beads and jeweler's findings (Potomac Beads) that you can combine to create your own earrings and necklaces. The owners project their official opening will be in about a week.

It was nice to see that a group is working to restore the Gateway Playhouse in Somers Point, NJ (our neighboring community just across the bay). The Theater Collaborative of South Jersey hopes to "...bring Broadway back to the Bay" within a year. They are sponsoring a fundraising event on Thursday, June 10 at the Ram's Head Inn in Absecon. For further information, visit their website www.Gatewaybythebay.org.

During the Block Party, musical groups station themselves at crossroads along Asbury Avenue so visitors enjoy a selection of live "street entertainment" right here in Ocean City. Different musical styles are represented and we enjoyed a trio playing nostalgic swing music, the rockin' sounds of Tidal Wave, and a very talented singer in front of Johnny B' Goode at Fourteenth Street.

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