During the month of June, thousands of high school graduates come to the beach. They come to celebrate the achievements they've made, and to spend time with friends before college. And, it seems, some come to drink.
"Senior Week doesn't turn out all nice and sweet like you'd think it'd be," said Bev Townsend, secretary of Ocean City's Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Committee. The committee sponsors Play It Safe, a program which provides free events to graduates.
Townsend said some students bring beer, and other alcohol or drugs with them when they come to the beach. The Play It Safe program started 23 years ago to distract graduates from harmful behavior. "We want them to have a good time, but to be safe," Townsend said.
With the help of volunteers, the town of Ocean City and local businesses, Play It Safe provides events for graduates everyday of the week, as well as free bus passes for the week when students sign up.
"The town of Ocean City has been so kind in supporting us," Townsend said. She added that many of the events were arranged free of charge by local businesses.
Townsend said 10,000 to 13,000 graduates sign up for the events annually.
Events include kayaking, windsurfing, bowling, mini golf, karaoke, beach volleyball, basketball, dodgeball, tennis, paintball, free roller coaster rides at Trimper's, tye-dye T-shirt design and free pizza eating contests. For a detailed calendar, go to http://www.playitsafeoceancity.com/calendar.
Programs will be running until June 19. Some highlights include:
Sundays, June 10 and 17, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.: Karaoke individual and group competition at Dorchester St. and the Boardwalk.
Mondays, June 11 and 18, from 10 a.m to noon: Windsurfing at the 48th St. Bayside Watersports Center.
Tuesdays, June 12 and 19: Beach Volleyball Tournament, sign up at 4:30 p.m., games at 6 p.m. at Dorchester St. and the boardwalk.
Thursdays, June 7 and14 at 11 p.m.: Laser Tag at Planet Maze on 33rd St.
Fridays, June 8 and 15, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.: Paintball at OC Paintball in West Ocean City near Baja Amusement.
Saturday, June 9 at 2 p.m. Pizza eating contest at Pizza Tugos in West Ocean City, 9935 Stephen Decatur Highway.