Spring Block Party Draws More Than 50,000 to OC

first_img“Had so much fun I think we’ll come back in the Fall,” one of the vendors said.Ocean City firefighter Ryan Stamm and son John sell OCFD t-shirts at the block party as Lou Prange of Bear, Delaware checks out the wares. Hank Eckbold (far right) looks on as shoppers peruse his fabricated metal creationsAsbury Avenue was transformed into a giant shopping mall, gourmet open air restaurant and town-wide gathering place on Saturday with another successful edition of the Annual Spring Block Party.Beautiful sunny weather –contrary to some earlier forecasts–helped swell attendance, which Chamber of Commerce organizers estimated to more than 50,000 people. From 5th through14th Streets, they enjoyed products, services and food items offered by more than 350 vendors.  But mostly, they enjoyed putting winter behind and being in Ocean City.“We always come to the Block Party,” said Walead Abdrabouh of Galloway Township, who enjoyed the festivities with wife Kelly and daughters Ava, 5, and Emma, 3. “It’s a great event.”“I got a red balloon!” a smiling Emma chimed in.Walead Abdraboug, wife Kelly and daughters Ava, 5 and Emma 3 all of Galloway The vendors, generally doing brisk business, seemed equally impressed.“This is our third year,” said Hank Eckbold , an Ocean City firefighter whose fabricated metal decorative items seemed to be a big hit. “We were praying for good weather and we got it.” His son John showed off one of his personal creations, a whimsical dog fashioned with repurposed hammer head for a head, nuts for eyes, spring for a body and horseshoes for legs. “Sometimes I don’t know what I’m going to end up with,” John said of his artistry.  “People ask me what I’m making and I say come back in a John Eckbold week and it will be something.”John Eckbold shows off his decorative dog fashioned from re-purposed metal componentsMichele Gillian, Executive Director of the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce praised the efforts of Rose Savastano who coordinates the setup and relations with the hundreds of vendors. “Rose and her team do an excellent job of getting everyone set up and ensuring that we have a good mix of different types of vendors. Rose knows all of the vendors personally, and their family members. It all starts at 5:30 a.m. and it is extremely well-organized.”She also had kind words for the City of Ocean City, particularly the Public Works department, which ensured the streets were clean and aided in setup.Everything was ready to go in advance of the announced 9 a.m. starting time, when hundreds of savvy earlybirds were already shopping in force.The Chamber, which also runs the hugely popular Fall Block Party, was represented by dozens of local member organizations maintaining a presence along the route, handing out pens, beach balls, tote bags, candy and other goodies.“The Block Parties have become extremely popular, awesomely big events. Between the Spring and Fall events, they are a fulltime job to run,” Gillian said.In addition to the vendors in tents and tables on the street, many of the Asbury Avenue merchants had their own tables set up on the sidewalks in front of their businesses.And then there was the food! Burgers, freshly grilled seafood, pizza, soup, popcorn and just about any other snack or meal could be found along the event route.  Many visitors juggled shopping bags and full plates of food as they walked along the avenue.  Others dined outdoors at tables set up outside of Jon and Patty’s, Arlene, Yianni’s and other eateries.As morning gave way to the afternoon, the crowd at its peak and parking spots near the event were at a premium. One man in a pickup truck, “Just call me Fred” squeezed into a spot near Fifth and Central. “Got lucky this year!” he said.Crowds slowly began to thin in the mid-afternoon but were still healthy right up until the 4 p.m. closing time.last_img

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