City officials proudly displayed individual poster boards trumpeting the historic recognition the city received earlier in the day.
Ocean City became the first town to
take first place in each category of the annual New Jersey Top 10 Beaches poll,
city officials announced Thursday evening.
Ocean City was voted the Best Beach overall, claiming the top spot previously held by the Wildwoods. In 2012, Ocean City came in second to the Wildwoods.
Additionally, Ocean City won first place in the categories for Best Destination for Family Vacation, Day Trip and Ecotourism.
The survey is conducted annually by the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium and the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey Coastal Research Center.
Mayor Jay Gillian gave credit to the Chamber of Commerce, Business Administrator Mike Dattilo, council and the tourism committee.
“This doesn’t happen overnight,” Gillian said during Thursday’s meeting at town hall. “Ocean City is on the map and people are looking at us.
“The Chamber deserves a big high five because they worked their butts off for this. They don’t get a lot of recognition, but they deserve this one because they worked hard promoting Ocean City.”
“We could not be more proud,” Council President Anthony Wilson said. “We’ve worked hard to put it all in place, and we couldn’t be more proud of this.”
The top five beaches were all located in Cape May County, as the Wildwoods dropped from first to second, followed by Wildwood, Wildwood Crest and North Wildwood.
Councilman Keith Hartzell gave at least some of the credit to a nominal tax on condo rentals that was passed in 2007, with fees going into the tourism budget. The tax on condos was passed because there were not enough hotels in Ocean City for a hotel tax, but the city needed to increase revenue.
“The tourism budget doubled,” Hartzell said.
The survey debuted one year later, and Ocean City has been in the top 3 each year. This is the second time the city grabbed the No. 1 spot, having also made the top of the list in 2009.
It was suspended for one year in 2013 following Superstorm Sandy. Councilman Antwan McClellan said he believes the city’s quick recovery helped it achieve the No. 1 ranking.
“We showed this was still a great destination and we could be No. 1 in the state,” McClellan said. “ … We’ve worked hard to bring families in and show them we have a great product. This shows the hard work of the community, council, the Chamber and the Tourism Committee.”
For about two months each year, the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium and the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey invite Jersey Shore enthusiasts to vote for their favorite beach communities.
The survey is considered along with other factories, such as width of beach, amenities, safety and parking, among other criteria, according to Stockton College spokesperson Maryjane Briant.
The survey is conducted from the Wednesday following President's Day weekend through the end of April, and the results are announced just before Memorial Day.
The announcement comes on the eve of the unofficial start of the summer season in Ocean City.
On Friday at noon, Mayor Jay Gillian, city officials and lifeguards meet to turn a large wooden key in the sand to signify the opening of the ocean for summer.
This is followed by the Business Persons Plunge as people clad in business attire, mascots and other people dressed in goofy costumes march into the ocean while the Ocean City High School band plays "Pomp and Circumstance."
“This is the greatest family resort and we take pride in that,” Councilman Michael DeVlieger said. “This is a fantastic place to live year round. Our taxes are a third that of some areas. We have more amenities and our taxes are a fraction of what other towns are. That’s why we push the skateboard park and some of the other things. This is a great place to raise a family.”