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Fun, Family and Fireworks for First Night in Ocean City

What's Happening in Ocean City, NJ 12/26/18
The Spinners and Other Great Entertainment Highlight Lineup

The legendary Spinners will perform Grammy-nominated hits like “Working My Way Back to You” and “The Rubberband Man” in three shows at the Ocean City Music Pier. The Fabulous Greaseband will get the crowd dancing with three shows of their own at the Ocean City Civic Center. Families can swim at the Aquatic and Fitness Center, ice-skate on an outdoor rink, or skateboard at Ocean City’s new park while a DJ spins tunes.

These are just a few of the 30 different shows and activities at 22 venues throughout town as Ocean City marks the 27th anniversary of its popular family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration this year on Dec. 31, 2018. The lineup includes entertainment to satisfy every taste and age group. A spectacular fireworks display will cap off the evening of fun and ring in the new year at midnight.

All-inclusive admission buttons are on sale now and available at firstnightocnj.com and at locations throughout town.

New entertainment for this year’s lineup includes Disney Junior’s Choo-Choo Soul with Genevieve engaging children with sing-alongs, dance routines and lots of other crowd participation during shows at the Music Pier. Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute will demonstrate how science impacts our everyday lives during interactive shows at the Music Pier. A slapstick comedy dog show called “Johnny Peers & the Muttville Comix” will be performed three times at the Ocean City High School gymnasium. Vocal Trash, which is described as “Glee Meets Stomp,” performs at the Ocean City Tabernacle. For the first time, the library will host a live Quizzo team trivia contest.

A Choo Choo Train will run between Sixth Street and Eighth Street on the boardwalk between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. Other favorites include a “Rockin’ New Year’s Eve with the Ocean City Pops,” telescope observations (weather permitting), mentalist Dan Cain, magician Chad Juros and more.

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.

Here’s our guide to how to enjoy First Night and First Day in Ocean City.

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

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 46th Street Welcome Center (46th and West).

Pickup at will-call will be available daily at the City Hall Welcome Center (Ninth Street entrance). On New Year's Eve, City Hall will-call will be open until 9 p.m. (First Night will not use the Stainton's location this year.)

FULL SCHEDULE: The full schedule of events and activities and a printable grid is available at firstnightocnj.com. Descriptions of all entertainment programs is also available at firstnightocnj.com.

PARKING AND TRANSPORTATION: All municipal parking lots and metered parking spots are free. Jitneys will provide free transportation from 5 p.m. until midnight 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 the Civic Center (Del’s Grill), Ocean City High School cafeteria (Sack O’ Subs), Ocean City Community Center (Yianni’s Café), Ocean City Primary School Cafeteria and St. Peter’s United Methodist Church (light boardwalk fare). 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.

FIRST DAY AT THE BEACH

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.