Thousands lined docks and street ends, and crowded into innumerable house parties, for this year’s Night in Venice boat parade in Ocean City, New Jersey.
With a theme of “Rocking through the Decades,” decorated boats celebrated the Roaring ’20s, the hedonistic dance parties at Studio 54 in the in the 1970s, the Grateful Dead, Prince and many others, with dozens of boats participating.
The parade has taken place for more than 60 years, and starts in the north end of the city, near the Ocean City Longport bridge, making its way through the lagoons and bays, under the Ninth Street Bridge to Tennessee Avenue. Along the way, the city had set up bleachers at most street ends, and many Bayfront homeowners use this one night a year to channel the spirit of Jay Gatsby, pulling out the stops with themed parties lining the waterfront.
Music, including bands and DJs, blasted out over the water on most blocks, and in many spots, children swan and played in the bay on the hot evening after the boats went by.
For some local families, Night in Venice is a tradition going back generations, both for those participating in the boat parade, and those hosting parties.
On parade night, parking was at a premium throughout the downtown, so many rode bikes, and the city provided a shuttle service to a parking lot south of the parade route to ease congestion. Ocean City also showed a strong police presence, with almost all officers on duty, and police at many intersections stopping traffic for pedestrians after dark.
The 2017 Grand Marshal was actor Alfonzo Ribeiro, who played Carlton Banks on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and hosts America’s Funniest Home Videos.