For decades, the Ocean City Block Party has drawn thousands to the city’s downtown shopping area, with traffic blocked along Asbury Avenue from Fifth Street to 14th Street.
About 350 vendors, many offering handmade crafts, line the street with table and displays each year, as do many of the city’s downtown merchants. Held one Saturday in the spring and in the fall, this year’s spring event was all day Saturday, May 6. The event goes on rain or shine, but this year saw sunny skies, with showers holding off until after the event closed.
The event includes live music about every block, an area set aside for non-profit groups in front of City Hall on Ninth Street, and food vendors. Some of the food sales also benefit non-profit organizations, including the Ocean City Exchange Club, which sells hot dogs, and the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church from Egg Harbor Township in nearby Atlantic County, which has long had a prime location at 9th Street offering gyros and desserts.
The Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce, the city and the downtown merchants’ organization coordinate on the event. Michelle Gillian, the director of the local chamber of commerce, said before the Block Party that about 10,000 people were expected. The Block Party was one of the early efforts at the shore to draw visitors before Memorial Day and after Labor Day. Hotels, restaurants and other businesses typically see a big boost from the weekend.