Ever since their “Christmas in July” presentation this year, the Hallmark channels have truly been the place to go for feel-good holiday movies. While there are other places like Lifetime that are jumping on the bandwagon, Hallmark is far and away the biggest producer of Christmas movies, as they celebrate 10 years in the holiday fold this year with an incredible number of new movies, while filling the rest of the 24 hours with repeats of the hundreds of movies they’ve got from preceding years!
If you’re a fan (and I freely admit that Susie and I love watching them, and there are now 5 or 6 of them on our DVR), you realize that 90% of them follow a very strict format. #1 – They all take place in a darling little town, where the Christmas season is a throwback to what we remember (or wished we remembered) from our childhood. #2 – One person is a resident and one a visitor from the “Big City”. #3 – As the movie goes on, the two main characters get closer and closer, till there is a “dilemma” (as Susie calls it) between the two main characters, which is always worked out in the end. #4 – They kiss, and the movie fades to black. While the movies have a cast of typical Hallmark Characters, in many ways the town that is the background for the movie, is as much of a character as the actors.
Well, I’m happy to say that we now live in a town, that in many ways, could be a cast member in any number of Hallmark Christmas movies! Ocean City, New Jersey is a typical small town, that turns into a major summer destination from June through August when it takes on the personality of “Americas Greatest Family Resort”. As the summer season ends, we revert to a small town, that takes on Christmas big time (just like a Hallmark movie).
Ocean City was very lucky, that for more than 45 years, Mark Soifer was Ocean City’s Public Relations Director, head cheerleader and idea guru. As a summer resort, part of his job was to expand the season, for the benefit of the city’s merchants. Out of that desire was born the phrase, “Shoulder Season”, and ways to expand the summer one weekend at a time, throughout the year. I’m sure that the way Ocean City celebrates Christmas is in no small measure a by-product of Mr. Soifer’s efforts. See, just like the town cheerleader that most Hallmark Movies have, we in Ocean City had one too, till he retired a few years ago.
First of all, the town is decorated from public buildings like the Welcome Center to City Hall, right up to the boardwalk and the Music Pier.
There are also lots of private homes decorated, like our representatives on Pennlyn Place!
Just look at the above flyer with just a small sampling on what Ocean City has to offer this Holiday Season. From this coming weekend’s Earlier than the Bird (when you’re invited to shop dressed in your PJs…and many folks do), to “Our Miracle on Asbury Avenue”, when among other things, Santa appears on the roof of City Hall and is “helped” down by the Ocean City Fire Department, our little town Christmas Parade, right through the City’s First Night New Year’s Eve Celebration!
Don’t forget the all important Breakfast with Santa, at restaurants all over town, or the weekly carriage rides through town! Yes, from the weekend before Thanksgiving, right up through the celebration of New Year’s Day, we live in a Hallmark Christmas town! Throw in a little snow once in a while, and it’s perfect!
From our Hallmark Christmas Town to yours, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night…..