Boats strut through the night from Ocean City to Venice
By MADDY VITALE
This was a memorable display of Night in Venice on Saturday.
There were floating tiki boats filled with scratching Mummers. A yacht-themed “shark week” with dancing great whites. And a “truck”, gliding through the water with a man singing in the back.
It doesn’t get any better than that. The theme for this year’s Night in Venice Boat Parade was “Mummers: Struttin’ on the Bay.” But there were also so many other boats with different themes to give the viewers plenty of variety.
In all, 131 boats made up the parade, and it was certainly one of the largest in the parade’s 67-year history.
Recently retired Villanova University men’s basketball coach Jay Wright and his wife, Patty, were the grand marshals. Jackie Evancho, who will perform a concert Sunday with the Ocean City Pops, danced with others in his boat for the parade.
Miss Night in Venice Gracie Anderson and her court, Nora Bridgeford, Andi Helphenstine, Ava Tarone and Julia Keich, waved from their boat. Miss Ocean City Maddyn Randazzo, Miss Junior Makenna Fleming and Little Miss Arianna Diantonio also made a special appearance, as did Miss New Jersey Volunteer Natalie Ragazzo.
City dignitaries, including Mayor Jay Gillian and his wife, Michele Gillian, executive director of the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce, as well as the city council, also had boats in the parade.
The Ocean City Theater Company gave a lively performance from a yacht with dance routines.
For families who attended the event from the Bayside Center, they literally had a front row seat to the action and entertainment, which also included plenty of music on the boats and even from nearby homes.
Amy and Devin Araujo, of Chicopee, Mass., brought their kids, Charlotte, 9, Wyatt, 7, Mackenzie, 13, and Kaleigh, 18, for a family night out.
They sat and waited for the boat show to begin. But first, the younger children got their face painted.
Amy’s parents, Jon and Donna Montemagni, have vacationed at the resort for 49 years and first brought Amy along when she was a child.
In turn, the Araujos descend to carry on the family tradition.
The boat show is still on their list.
“I love all the boats and the decorations,” Charlotte exclaimed before the parade began.
The Night in Venice boat parade follows the same route every year. It begins near the Ocean City-Longport Toll Bridge and runs along the bay to Tennessee Avenue, looping in and out of lagoons along the way.
Madison Spizarny, 10, of Mullica Hill, and her 6-year-old sister, Morgan, along with their friend, Sami Dunn, of Pitman, NJ, proudly displayed their colorful creations courtesy of a makeup company at the event.
For some, the Night in Venice festivities were part of a long family tradition.
For others, like Mary Daley, from Berlin, NJ, who brought her 3-month-old beagle, Charlie, and her friend, Theresa Sale, from Chicago, it was their first time at the big show on the water.
“We’re just excited to see what it’s all about,” Daley said.
The parade was only half the entertainment.
In addition to the waterfront parade seen from myriad areas of the island, including the Ninth Street Bridge, there was a home decorating contest.
The judges choose the winners from boats and houses. The city usually announces the winners within two days.