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2020 Guide to First Night and First Day in Ocean City

WHAT: Ocean City marks the 28th anniversary of its popular family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration this year, and as many as 10,000 are expected to attend. First Night offers more than 70 opportunities to catch 35 different shows and activities at 22 venues throughout town. The lineup includes entertainment to satisfy every taste and age group. A fireworks display rings in the new year at midnight. The fun continues on New Year’s Day with a 5-kilometer run on the boardwalk and the wildly popular First Plunge in the Atlantic Ocean.

WHEN: First Night events run 4 p.m. to midnight on Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019. The First Day 5K starts at 1 p.m. and the First Plunge goes off at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020.

ADMISSION BUTTONS: Buttons ($20) are good for all events. Children age 2 and under are free. They are on sale now.

  • Online: Visit firstnightocnj.com.
  • By phone:Call 609-399-6111.
  • In person:Buttons can be purchased at the Welcome Center on the Route 52 causeway, at City Hall (861 Asbury Avenue) and at the Ocean City Music Pier Welcome Center (Boardwalk at Moorlyn Terrace).

Pickup at will-call will be available daily at the City Hall Welcome Center (Ninth Street entrance). Button sales and will-call pickup will be at the City Hall Welcome Center until 9 p.m. Dec. 31. Button sales and will-call pickup will move to the Music Pier Welcome Center from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Dec. 31.


HIGHLIGHTS: New entertainment for this year’s lineup includes The Trammps (the Philadelphia-based band who made it big with “Disco Inferno” and other dance hits), Disney’s Imagination Movers (an Emmy-winning group performing an interactive, family-friendly rock concert), a stunt basketball show from the Harlem Wizards, the Duprees performing with the Ocean City Pops, a country line dancing experience with professionals teaching everyone the latest dances, and the Legacy Band performing party classics leading up to a confetti countdown at midnight.

Traditional favorites include the return of rides at Wonderland Pier, ice-skating on a synthetic rink, open swim at the Aquatic and Fitness Center pool, the Franklin Institute interactive science show, string bands, magic shows, trivia, karaoke, and more. The evening is capped off with midnight fireworks launched from the beach between Fifth Street and Sixth Street.

FULL SCHEDULE: The full schedule of events and activities and a printable grid is available at firstnightocnj.com and attached here as FirstNightGrid2020. Descriptions of all entertainment programs is also available at firstnightocnj.com and attached here as 2020 First Night Entertainment.

PARKING AND TRANSPORTATION: All municipal parking lots and metered parking spots are free. Jitneys will provide free transportation from 5 p.m. until 12:30 a.m. for button-holders, operating continuously between sites starting at the Ocean City Transportation Center (Ninth Street and Haven Avenue) and Seventh Street Parking Lot (Seventh Street and Central Ave.). For a route map and complete information, visit firstnightocnj.com.

DINING AND SHOPPING: Food and drink will be for sale at Ocean City High School (Sack O’ Subs), Wonderland Pier (6th Street Pizza and Grill) and Ocean City Community Center (Yianni’s Café) with snack stands at Ocean City Primary School and St. Peter’s United Methodist Church. For a full list of Ocean City dining and shopping outlets open on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1, visit firstnightocnj.com.

HISTORY: First Night in Ocean City was modeled after an alcohol-free New Year’s Eve celebration in Boston that marked the nation’s bicentennial in 1976. The first celebration in Ocean City 27 years ago included 25 entertainment acts in five different locations with admission buttons selling for $8 ($5 before Dec. 26). About 800 buttons were sold. While other First Night events have faded, Ocean City's has only grown more popular with families making it an annual tradition for a safe New Year's Eve. Today, attendance is capped at 10,000 with admission buttons selling out year after year.



BOARDWALK RUN: A 5-kilometer run starts at 1 p.m. in front of the Ocean City Music Pier. Race-day registration begins 11 a.m. at the Music Pier at Moorlyn Terrace. Shirts for all who pre-register and while supplies last. Refreshments are available after the race. Entry fee is $30 (or $25 if you register before Christmas). For full information, links to online registration and printable forms, visit firstnightocnj.com.

FIRST PLUNGE: The ocean plunge starts at 2 p.m. on the beach adjacent to the Music Pier. Participants should register inside the Music Pier before heading to the beach. Registration is free, but all participants must sign a waiver. First Day At The Beach shirts will be on sale at the Music Pier for $20.

SHOPPING EXTRAVAGANZA: There will be an all-day shopping extravaganza with discounts at stores on Asbury Avenue and the boardwalk from 5th to 14th Streets. Free horse-drawn carriage rides on downtown Asbury Avenue will be available noon to 3 p.m. on Jan. 1. Board in front of City Hall at Ninth Street and Asbury Avenue.