Plenty of fun at Ocean City’s Oscar-themed Night in Venice

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Ocean City’s Night in Venice boat parade featured 71 decorated boats and numerous decorated houses this year. Organizers say this was the best parade in years. Ocean City’s Night in Venice boat parade featured 71 decorated boats and numerous decorated houses this year. Organizers say this was the best parade in years. OCEAN CITY — Pop-up showers that threatened the big event earlier in the day disappeared, and the 60th annual Night in Venice boat parade set sail to clear skies on Saturday evening, July 27.

Featuring 71 decorated boats, the flotilla made its way from the Ocean City-Longport Bridge along the bay front and through numerous lagoons to Tennessee Avenue. 

City Publicist Mark Soifer said the parade was one of the most successful in recent memory. While there was some concern about the number of boats participating, Soifer said there was a huge last-minute push to get entered. Decorated homes lined the water, and Soifer said a lot of homeowners went all out.

“We were very pleased,” said Soifer, with the number of boats and the strength of the crowds. “It was a great parade, a lot of very clever ideas. It was just long enough to be interesting, and you could hear the crowds cheering for the boats as they passed. It was a great parade.”

The theme of this year’s parade was “A Night at the Oscars,” but as is custom, many boats and homeowners chose their own themes to fit current events or pop culture. 

On the Gardens Lagoon, Tom and Eileen McGowan went with the World Cup theme. Dressed as referees, they greeted and mingled with guests, ready to throw a red card if need be. As it turned out, it wasn’t necessary.

, Tom and Eileen McGowan went with the World Cup theme , Tom and Eileen McGowan went with the World Cup theme Skye Long visiting Ocean City from China was among the crowd. An American citizen living in Shanghai, she was impressed with what Soifer says is the largest summer boat parade of its kind in the world.

“It was so exciting!” she said. “It’s unique; I never saw anything like this in my life. I like it very much!”

Long took picture after picture, of the boats, the people, the homes, everything in sight. She was sharing them with family and friends in China as fast as she could take them.

“I feel very fortunate to have been invited to a party like this,” she said. “I would never have imagined anything like this.”

Long said she would treasure the memories.

“This is American culture,” she said. “If I had not been invited, through a friend of a friend, I would never have known that there was a parade like this. I knew it would be a boat parade, but this is beyond anything I have ever seen.”

Some Americans, she said, may take such a spectacular event for granted, but for this Chinese-born American citizen, it was extraordinary.

Kate Williams, standing with a large crowd watching the parade at the end of Landing Road agreed. She was visiting Ocean City for the first time and heard about the parade.

“My cousin told me it was fun to watch, so we walked over,” she said. “I thought it was incredible. I’m not even at a party, but the crowd here was fun, we had a great time. The children were all excited, and the boats were so close! I enjoyed it. Ocean City is a great place, what a nice tradition this is.”

Soifer said boat owners went all out this year.

“There were a lot of really clever ideas,” he said. Crowd favorites included “Bridgegate,” featuring an angry Gov. Chris Christie, saying “I told you to close the fridge, not the bridge!”

Numerous Oscar-themed boats, including “Hollywood, and the Oscar goes to …” were popular, as was “The Griswold Christmas,” the Fishin’ Chix with “Christmas in July,” “OC, How Sweet it is,” Forrest Gump and a tribute to the 70th Anniversary of D-Day.

Miss Ocean City, Carly DelSordo was featured, along with beauties from across the region. 

Miss Night in Venice, Alexa Rosen, reigned over the parade, and Soifer said she is a reminder of how important the parade is to the community. Contestants, sponsored by local businesses, compete for the crowd by raising money.

“So much is written about the parties,” said Soifer. “The parties are great, we love the parties, but I have to thank the people who go all out to host them, and I have to thank the people who go all out to decorate and enter the boats.”

It takes time, effort and funding, he said, to participate.

“If not for them, there would be no Miss Night in Venice, and if there was no Miss Night in Venice, we would raise the money we do.”

This year, the contestants collectively raised more than $50,000, to be split between the local Food Cupboard, the HERO Foundation for Designated Drivers, the Sunshine Foundation and the Ocean City High School After Prom.

“Night in Venice is more than just a big party, it’s a big help to the community,” he said.

The parade began floating in 1954, Miss Night in Venice came along about 20 years later. Former Mayor Nicholas “Chick” Trofa and his wife, Vi, started it.

“It was started to support the Rescue Squad,” he said. At the time, Ocean City had a volunteer rescue squad. “When the rescue squad became a city function, it branched off and began supporting other charities, but it all began with the Trofas.

(photos by Ann Richardson) (photos by Ann Richardson) “This is a big incentive to keep the parade going,” he said. “We get a lot of help from volunteers, it’s a huge volunteer effort, and I have to thank a lot of people on the city staff and the Chamber of Commerce, too.

“The Coast Guard, the Ocean City Police, the State Marine Police, everyone plays an important role,” he said. “It’s a real team effort, it’s a nice party, but really it’s all about the charities.”

Night in Venice, he said, has had its struggles, but it’s “coming back.”

“Saturday night proved it,” he said. “We were at a crucial point, but its back, one of the best parades we’ve ever had.”



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