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YEAR IN REVIEW 2015: Lifestyle

(Jan. 1, 2016) From the annual Winterfest of Lights and Ocean City Air Show to runs, walks and a swim benefiting different organizations, here are some of the year’s top stories:

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Two pilots with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels perform what is known as an inverted upright low pass over the beach in Ocean City during a practice run on June 12.

OC Air Show
Ocean City’s eighth annual Air Show took off June 13-14, bringing international performers, World War II bomber planes and numerous other acrobatic displays along the Boardwalk and beach.
“We’ve pulled off the air show version of a hat trick with the addition of the F-22 Raptor demo team. We have three of the biggest acts in the air show industry, all performing in the same year [U.S. Navy Blue Angels and Breitling Jet Team],” said OC Air Show President Brian Lilley.
The Ocean City Air Show featured performances by the B-25 Mitchell “Panchito” WWII Bomber, an L-39 Albatross Cold War era jet, World War II P-51 Mustang, C-130 Fat Albert and more high-flying acts.
Jonathon Billie gave a single-ship demonstration with an F-22 Raptor.
“Nothing compared to the power and noise of the F-22 Raptor as it screamed across the beach and demonstrated what this most advanced fighter jet can do in the sky,” said Cathy Bassett, press officer for the show.
Tens of thousands were in town for the 2015 Air Show with people cramming the beach, balconies and rooftops for a view of the spectacular.
Event organizers are looking ahead to the 2016 OC Air Show when the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds are slated to make their return June 18-19.
Air Show organizers also announced that the U.S. Navy Blue Angels will return for the 10th anniversary show, June 17-18, 2017.
Their inaugural appearance at this year’s event drew record-breaking crowds to the resort.
“The OC Air Show keeps getting bigger and better thanks to the support of the Town of Ocean City and the hundreds of thousands of spectators who come out to make it a success some from as far away as New York, Ohio and the Carolinas,” Lilley said, in a press release. “With the confirmation of the Thunderbirds in 2016 and the Blue Angels in 2017 it will mark four straight years that the OC Air Show has featured a major military jet demonstration team.”
Visit www.ocairshow.com for more information.
Penguin Swim
On New Year’s Day 2015, approximately 850 participants plunged into the 41-degree Atlantic Ocean during the 21st annual Penguin Swim, helping to raise more than $91,000 for Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin.
Swimmers met at the Princess Royale on 91st Street at 11:30 a.m. for final registration and participants raced into the ocean at 1 p.m. The air temperature was about 43 degrees.
People came out dressed as penguins, characters from the movie Avatar, Elvis, a huge giraffe, princesses and Batman’s Penguin. One older gentleman who participated dressed like Baby New Year.
“This event supports your local, not-for-profit hospital,” AGH Event Coordinator Alli Justice said. “It’s a bucket list kind of thing and we’ve grown the event exponentially.”
An award ceremony inside the Princess Royale followed the event, where participants had the opportunity to warm up in pools and hot tubs.
Awards were presented to the youngest and oldest swimmers, as well as to the top team and individual money-raisers.
For the second year, participants who were out of town on New Year’s Day engaged in a “virtual swim.” These penguins raised money, registered online and took a photo of their dip before posting it to social media sites.
In 21 years, the Penguin Swim has raised more than $1 million for AGH and the 2016 Penguin Swim is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 1.
The hospital has been providing health care to residents of Worcester, Wicomico and Somerset counties as well as Sussex County, Del., since May 1993.
For more information about Atlantic General Hospital, visit www.atlanticgeneral.org.
Winterfest of Lights
In the 2014 Winterfest of Lights season, 111,042 passengers took a ride through illuminated Northside Park during the 46-night holiday spectacular.
“We were up 18 percent from last year and broke all records this year. The only number that decreased was the number of tram cars used, which means we moved more people over a longer period of time,” said Frank Miller, special events superintendent for the Town of Ocean City. “This year exceeded our expectations and I am happy the thousands of dollars made off this event will go towards the City’s needs.”
The 127th Street display includes a 12-minute tram ride with holiday music through 58 acres of over 400 displays and one million lights from Nov. 20 through Jan. 4, 2015, according to Miller. An average of 2,414 people rode the train through the park each night.
There were 19,294 more passengers who took the mile-long train ride this year than 2013’s ridership, when the Winterfest of Lights was in operation four fewer days (42).
Attendance during the final weekend of the 22nd annual event was lower than usual, with 2,500 riders on Friday, Jan. 2, 600 passengers on Saturday, Jan. 3 and 230 on the last night, Sunday, Jan. 4.
Rain and wind limited the number of passengers riding the Winterfest Express on the final weekend. Saturday, Jan. 3 started off strong, but the Ravens and Steelers playoff game killed numbers later on in the night.
The biggest night overall was Saturday, Nov. 29, when 7,799 people road the tram. The second largest attendance night was Saturday, Dec. 13, when 7,156 riders enjoyed the displays.
Winterfest of Lights has a different layout each year to keep excursions fresh for returning visitors. Riders have the challenge to find their favorite displays in new locations. The city’s crew began setup in early October to transform the park into a winter wonderland.
“Winterfest is about creating memories for our patrons. We want them to come and leave with great memories,” said Miller. “That warm feeling, smiling faces and happiness is what we want people to remember as they get into their cars to head home.”
The 23rd annual Winterfest of Lights kicked off Nov. 19 and runs nightly through Sunday, Jan. 3. Hours of operation are 5:30-9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 5:30-10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The cost to ride the train is $5 for adults. Children 11 and younger ride for free.
During the warm weather Thanksgiving weekend, Winterfest of Lights posted a new attendance record. Altogether, 22,423 people checked in and checked out the more than 400 illuminated displays from Wednesday, Nov. 25 through Sunday, Nov. 29 at Northside Park on 125th Street.
“Last year was a benchmark year, and we never thought we could duplicate its success,” Miller said. “We’re grateful for the people that come out in the great weather conditions.”
As of Dec. 21, about 85,000 people had toured the spectacular and attendance is up 20 percent from the same time period last year.
The Winterfest of Lights has won numerous awards and received an abundance of accolades throughout its 23 years. The American Bus Association named Winterfest of Lights one of the Top 100 Events in North America for 2014, an honor it also earned in 2013 and 2011. Maryland Life Magazine has voted it “Maryland’s Finest Holiday Tradition.”
The attraction was ranked No. 1 in 2008 on the Professional Travel Guide Editor’s Top 10 of the nation’s largest and best holiday lights displays. Winterfest of Lights was No. 2 in the country on “America Online City Guide’s Top 11 Lighting Displays.” It followed Disney-MGM Studios display in Orlando.
For more information, call the Ocean City Recreation and Parks Department at 410-250-0125.
Race for the Cure
A total of 2,171 people registered for the fourth annual Susan G. Komen Ocean City Race for the Cure on April 19.
The event supports breast cancer research and raises awareness with a timed 5K, a 5K fun run or walk and a 1-mile family walk, where participants were encouraged to dress in beach attire for the chance to win a prize.
Organizers estimated there were several hundred spectators and women took part in a “Parade of Pink” survivor recognition walk in addition to a group photo.
More than $200,000 was generated through registration, donations, sponsorships, raffles and merchandise sales, according to Kim Schmulowitz, communications and marketing director for Komen Maryland.
Since the inaugural race in 2012, Ocean City cancer survivors, supporters and race participants have raised more than $1 million for the organization.
The 2016 event is scheduled for April 16. For more information, visit www.komenmd.org.
The Susan G. Komen organization is the largest contributor to breast cancer research outside of the federal government. Through events such as Race for the Cure, Komen Maryland has invested $40 million in community breast cancer programs since 1993.
The majority of revenue comes from the Komen Maryland Race for the Cure in Hunt Valley and Ocean City.
Seventy-five percent of donations raised in Maryland stay in the state with the remaining 25 percent supporting peer reviewed scientific research funded by the organization.
Making Strides
Close to 1,000 people participated in Ocean City’s fifth annual American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K run and walk on the resort Boardwalk, Sunday, Oct. 18. 
“I think the event went really well,” said Beverly Furst, chairwoman of the Ocean City run and walk. “Despite the chilly morning, we had a great turnout and the inlet was a sea of pink. I feel the morning was very moving. I’m always amazed how our community comes together to support those that have been touched by cancer. This community is always very generous and for that, I’m grateful.”
Dozens of breast cancer survivors were celebrated and recognized after the opening ceremony, and many took part in the run and walk as well.
Funds raised through Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walks enable the American Cancer Society to finish the fight against breast cancer by investing in groundbreaking research, providing free, comprehensive information and support to those touched by breast cancer, and helping people reduce their breast cancer risk or find it early when it’s most treatable.
The Ocean City Making Strides 5K run and walk is one of several events that make up the Pink Ribbon Classic at the Beach Series, an assortment of local activities to increase breast cancer awareness while raising money for the American Cancer Society.
The Pink Ribbon Classic Series was started in 1996 by a group of volunteers.
The 2015 Classic included a ladies-only fishing tournament; card, game and mahj party; tennis, golf and mah jongg tournaments; Jammin’ Out Cancer; Brews for Boobs, “Pamper Yourself for Charity” raffle and the 5K.
Since its inception, the Pink Ribbon Classic Series has raised about $1.5 million for breast cancer research, awareness, programs and services. As of Dec. 18, more than $245,000 has been raised through the 2015 Pink Ribbon events, according to www.makingstrideswalk.org/oceancitymd. Donations will be accepted until Dec. 31.

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