Each and every year, when the month of August wraps up, the employees of the Town of Ocean City get ready for their “serious busy season.” Don’t get us wrong, the Maintenance Department for the town has their hands full all spring and summer long, keeping our beaches and boardwalks in pristine shape but the month of September is clearly where these hard workers shine.
ShoreBread was lucky enough to get a behind the scenes look at what it really takes to set up for one of the biggest events of the year here in our little beach town. (A lot of muscle, teamwork and hustle should be the motto of this department). We were astounded by how much manpower it takes to set up these events… think tractor trailers running back and forth over the Route 50 Bridge to take all of the supplies out of storage. (But let’s start from the beginning.)
“We use the Keyser Yard in West Ocean City to stock pile all of the wood beams, metal poles, beach fencing and picnic tables,” said Dustin Gilbert, Maintenance Supervisor for the Town of Ocean City. “Now that Bike Week is the week before Sunfest, we get everything out two weeks early.” However, other than an out of Town Company coming to bring in the signature white tents, the town employees set up everything else.
“Ocean City Recreation and Parks leases the spaces for the businesses, handles the ticket sales and does the arch decorations such as the hay bales, mums and scarecrows,” said Gilbert. “They run the operation, but the Maintenance Department is here day and night to build and maintain the event.”
While the event is taking place, the Maintenance Department is set up into crews required to do eight hour shifts a piece during the day and night. “It’s brutal, my guys have been here for three weeks working really hard,” said Joe Listmann, Supervisor of the Maintenance Department for Special Events. “While we’re nailing in the last board to hold up the tent, electricians are behind us waiting to wire the lighting in each tent, it’s a fast paced process that requires a lot of skill and poise.”
Gilbert explained that the hardest time of the year is in between Sunfest and Wine on the Beach. (Another one of our favorite fall events!) “As soon as Sunfest is over Sunday night at 5PM, our guys are immediately breaking it all down for Wine Fest,” said Gilbert. “The process starts all over again; it’s really a logistics nightmare.”
“Every single one of these tents has to come down in a matter of 3 to 4 days,” said Listmann. “So as that’s going on and we’re cleaning up from the biggest weekend of the fall, we’re also setting up for Wine on the Beach at the same time.” If there is one thing that we know for sure… it’s that the Maintenance Department of Ocean City can get it done. None of the successful events that the town puts on would be possible if it wasn’t for their talent and hard work.