By MICHAEL PRITCHARD
After two years of COVID-19, the “girls” in Ocean City have been feeling, well, a little cooped up.
But that changed in a big way Friday night when the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce sponsored the annual Girls Weekend celebration – which just happened to coincide with April Fool’s Day – as well as the fifth annual kickoff fashion show.
The show features the spring and fall lineups for Ocean City’s downtown clothing shops.
“We’re calling it the fifth annual fashion show, but we haven’t been able to hold it in the last two years due to the pandemic,” said Michele Gillian, executive director of the Chamber. “It’s the kickoff for events all weekend and features shops like Ta-Dah, Sun Seekers, Bella, and more. We have events planned for the entire weekend. Fun things like learning yoga and things just to enjoy, while highlighting our local businesses.”
For the fashion show, however, that meant a group of locals, models, beauty queens and girls just wanting to have some fun got to stroll the catwalk – OK, the Ocean City Yacht Club’s dance floor – wearing some of the latest fashions. The idea is to attract women shoppers to the city’s downtown shops.
“It’s been really great,” said Liz Katz, who modeled Cruise Control Gear active wear from Pappagallo with her 4-year-old daughter Ava. “Just to see everybody smiling again and having fun. It’s exciting that we can all get together again.”
While the event is big on fun, it’s also an important weekend for Ocean City’s shopping district.
“This is our season kickoff,” said Danielle Guerriero, owner of Ta-Dah and president of Ocean City’s Downtown Merchants Association. “This is when we introduce our new lines and showcase our local stores. It’s just a great way to start the season.”
Though the fashion show was sidelined as the traditional glitzy event the last two years, Ocean City’s shop owners found a way to keep the tradition alive even during the COVID-19 shutdowns.
“The first year a lot of us went virtual and did the show online,” Guerriero said. “Last year we had the models walk down the avenue. It’s an important and fun tradition and we just wanted to keep it going. But to have everybody here again is wonderful.”
With the Ocean City Yacht Club setting a type of Riviera atmosphere, a sizable crowd got to see a host of fashion choices from swim and beach wear to casual dresses and evening wear. It was all topped off with gift bags and floor prizes from Ocean City’s finest shops.
In fact, there was even some royalty on hand in the event’s host, Miss New Jersey 2021 Alyssa Sullivan.
“I’m a lifetime resident of Cape May Court House,” Sullivan said. “So, for me, it’s just really cool to hang with the women of Ocean City. It’s an exciting event and it really highlights all the wonderful options that are here. We have a great crowd and a great lineup and it’s a lot of fun.”
And while fashion was the star Friday night, events will run all weekend, so if you’re looking to break out of your quarantine and put on a little style, Ocean City’s downtown has your number – and in a fun way.
“Just look at all the smiles in this room,” said Katz. “It’s so nice to see that again.”