Ocean City Has Big Things in Store for Memorial Day Weekend

After a long winter and rainy spring, city and Chamber of Commerce officials will finally turn a ceremonial wooden key to “unlock the ocean” for the season at noon Friday, May 24. The free public event provides an early start to Memorial Day Weekend and welcomes a long-awaited summer. It takes place on the beach between the Ocean City Music Pier and Ninth Street.

With the ocean officially open, a fully-clothed entourage will then march into the chilly Atlantic Ocean to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the Business Persons Plunge. The Ocean City High School band will play “Pomp and Circumstance” and a banner plane will fly by as local business owners and employees take the first swim of the summer.

A scene from last year’s “Unlocking of the Ocean” in Ocean City.

The Business Persons Plunge has grown in popularity since it first started in 2004, and anybody is invited to participate. It’s a chance to get some exposure for your business or organization or just to start Memorial Day Weekend with a splash. Participants are asked to muster on the beach at 11:30 a.m. for instructions.

The daily boardwalk flag-raising ceremony – a beloved tradition in Ocean City – will begin for the 2024 season at the Ocean City Music Pier starting on Friday, May 24. The event includes the playing of the national anthem and Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” The ritual will take place at 9 a.m. every morning through Sept. 11.

Saturday morning (May 25) brings the Memorial Beach Challenge, a spectacle to behold as athletes complete a two-mile obstacle course that covers much of the beach on both sides of the Music Pier. Proceeds from the event benefit The 31 Heroes Project, an organization that specializes in creating programs, financial support systems and future opportunities for service members, veterans and their families. The race begins at 8:05 a.m. near the Ocean City Music Pier. It also includes a Kids Fun Run. Visit memorialbeachchallenge.com for more information on the races and for registration.

Ocean City’s Memorial Day Service starts at 11 a.m. Monday, May 27 at Veterans Memorial Park (500 block of Wesley Avenue). All are encouraged to attend. Ralph Galati, a U.S. Air Force veteran, will be the keynote speaker. Galati’s plane was shot down over Vietnam in 1972, and he spent 14 months as a prisoner of war. He has been a veterans advocate throughout his life.

The National Moment of Remembrance is also set for May 27. Established by Congress, the event asks Americans, wherever they are at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day, to pause in an act of national unity for one minute. Greg Murphy of Buglers Across America will sounds Taps from the Ocean City Music Pier to commemorate the moment. The performance will be broadcast on the boardwalk public address system.

Jitney service will be available 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday through Monday (May 24 to 27), and daily service will begin on June 21. More information on rates, routes and schedules is available at ocnj.us/jitney.