Visiting Ocean City for the 4th of July weekend? What there is to know

Expect to see a colorless night sky this 4th of July in Ocean City.

Due to a severe labor shortage, the 2022 celebrations have been split into two separate days. The resort’s highly anticipated fireworks display is now scheduled for July 3 and 5.

But your beach vacation will be filled with Maryland blue crabs, fun on the boardwalk and, of course, a celebration of American independence.

Here’s everything you need to know to make the most of the vacation week.

What’s the weather like on the 4th of July?

A hot and humid day is predicted for Ocean City for the holidays with highs of 80 but pleasant temperatures reaching near 90, according to Accuweather.

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Events of July 4, but not the 4

On July 3, an “intimate” Independence Day celebration is planned for Northside Park during Sundaes in the Park, with a 7 p.m. concert by Mike Hines & the Look, followed by a condensed fireworks display at 9 p.m.

On July 5, “American Idol” star and Salisbury native Jay Copeland will take the stage at Northside Park at 8 p.m.

Downtown on July 5, there will also be music starting at 8 p.m. and fireworks starting at 9:30 p.m. The show will include new fireworks elements from Celebration Fireworks Company. Due to the height of the new fireworks, attendees are encouraged to view the spectacle from the beach between the Fishing Pier and Third Street.

Still looking for the 4th of July fireworks, there are plenty of shows planned for nearby towns.

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How many hot dogs can you eat?

On July 4, the Fish Tales Bar and Grill located on the bay at 22nd Street in Ocean City will host its annual hot dog eating contest in the south parking lot at noon.

This amateur competition is open to anyone over the age of 18. The winner will receive at least a cash prize of $1,000, a trophy and bragging rights for an entire year. There will be places available to watch the competition until 4 p.m.

The first 20 people to pre-register will be the candidates. To register, head to the Bahia Marina Tackle Shop or Fish Tales Small Bar to register.

A registration fee of $10 is required to hold your place. You must sign a waiver to participate.

Ocean City does not allow personal fireworks

Although they can be fun, fireworks are not allowed in Ocean City due to safety concerns for people and wildlife.

The discharge of any fireworks or pyrotechnics is prohibited, according to the City of Ocean City. Only small hand candles can be used under adult supervision. Those interested in holding fireworks displays performed by licensed Maryland pyrotechnicians can apply for a permit from the Office of the Fire Marshal.

Fancy a bonfire on the beach?

For those wishing to build a bonfire along the city’s 10-mile sandstrip, permits are required. For more information, including regulations, restrictions and to apply for a permit online, visit

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What to expect at restaurants

Over the past two years, many Ocean City businesses, large and small, have struggled to recruit and retain seasonal employees. The city, which requires approximately 12,000 seasonal workers annually, asks visitors to be patient during this summer season.

Now, expect to see restaurants move at a much slower pace this holiday weekend as severe labor shortages continue to plague the resort town.

Customers may face longer wait times, limited menus and shorter opening hours. To combat this, vacationers can choose to cook at their rental property for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, saving time and money.

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Safety in the sand and surf

The Ocean City Beach Patrol is officially back. Members will guard the beach from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily.

As you head to the beach, the Beach Patrol asks you to keep important sand safety tips in mind. When digging a hole, always make sure it is no deeper than the knees of the shortest person in your group.

A Beach Patrol lifeguard rushes into the ocean.

The sand is very unstable and can crumble at any time. If someone falls into a hole, they risk being trapped. The cave-ins proved deadly, as the sand weighs around 100 to 112 pounds per cubic foot.

Always stay diligent when you walk on the beach, because some swimmers dig holes but forget to fill them. Filling the holes is necessary for everyone’s safety.

As the summer season dawns on Ocean City, the Beach Patrol also reminds swimmers to keep their feet in the sand until the lifeguard is at the helm.

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Getting Around Ocean City: Parking, Bus and Tram Info

City buses in Ocean City operating along the Coastal Highway have adopted their summer schedule. Buses will arrive at their stops approximately every 15 minutes, from 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. The bus service will not be available between 3:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.

The standard bus fare is $3 per person for an all-day pass. Children 42 inches tall or under, Senior Resident Bus Pass holders, and ADA Certified Disabled Cardholders can ride for free.

Ocean City has about 60 drivers, officials said in early June, leaving a driver shortage with only about 50% deployments from 2019. The city council is working to raise salaries and improve recruitment efforts to address the labor shortage.

A bus travels down the Coastal Highway April 8, 2022 in Ocean City, Maryland.

The Boardwalk trolley service operates from noon to midnight daily. Tram fare is $4 per person, per boarding, one way on the boardwalk.

Staffing of drivers and streetcar conductors remains limited, however, peak demand times are mostly met, according to Ocean City Transit.

Paid parking is in effect throughout the city. Paid parking is also available at the following locations: Inlet Lot, Street and Municipal Lot and West Ocean City Park-n-Ride. For more information, visit the city’s website.

Visit Assateague, but expect a wait

Looking to get away from the crowds on the Coastal Highway? Look no further than Assateague Island, located eight miles south of Ocean City.

Spend your day in Assateague camping, watching wild ponies, or gathering around a bonfire. With miles of bike paths, unspoilt beaches and untouched natural habitats, the island is the perfect place for serene family reunions or solo adventures.

The island has both a national park and a state park. Expect long queues as the parks have continued to grow in popularity. In 2020, traffic to enter the national park was, at times in July, 3 miles long on Highway 611, with sand vehicle slots filled as early as 6 a.m. on weekends with a three-hour wait .

The Yankee Pack of Wild Horses in the Assateague State Park Campground Wednesday, May 22, 2019. Rangers are asking Memorial Day weekend visitors to maintain a distance of at least 40 feet from horses to security reasons.

For the National Seashore, keep in mind that photo ID should be on hand, along with your signed pass, as you approach the entrance booths. Cards will not be scanned.

Seven-day vehicle passes cost $25, or customers can choose to purchase an annual pass, valid for one year from purchase, for $45. A seven-day individual pass costs $15. Day passes will cost $5 per person and last until 4 p.m. from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.

Sand vehicle permits can be purchased at the island ranger station from 9 am to 5 pm daily. OSV license stickers must be placed on the inside of the windshield, either in the lower left or right corner.

Olivia Minzola covers communities on the Basse-Côte. Contact her with advice and story ideas at [email protected]

Corina C. Butler