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Night in Venice


Night in Venice to Celebrate 69th Anniversary on July 20th

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Night in Venice Planning Committee Chairman Dave Winslow announced on April 19th, the theme for the 2024 event: “Summertime Vibes: A Tribute to Jimmy Buffett.” 

Ocean City’s 69th annual Night in Venice at 6:30 p.m. July 20 this year will honor Buffett and provide a chance to celebrate the music and carefree persona of the songwriter, who passed away in September after more than five decades of writing, recording and performing timeless classics.

Winslow, a retired executive and Fourth Ward representative on City Council, returns again as Chairman of the Night in Venice Committee. He served in the same role for many years beginning in the 1980s, and continues for yet another year. The group also will include Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Michele Gillian, Ocean City Community Services Director Daniel Kelchner and Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian.

 “A tribute to Jimmy Buffett is perfect for our summertime event,” Mayor Gillian said. “I’m excited to work with Dave and the committee to make this year’s event better than ever.”  

Winslow also announced this year’s presenting sponsors: ACME and OCNJ Watersports. Entries are currently being accepted from all those who want to participate in the annual bayfront celebration. The boat parade and decorated bayfront home contests provide a chance to be part of the highlight of the summer season in Ocean City. Thousands of spectators line the bayfront, and thousands more attend private parties at homes along the route from the Ocean City-Longport Bridge to Tennessee Avenue. The theme is always optional, and entries for boats and homes are currently being accepted online or by calling 609-399-6111.

ESPN reporter and host Marty Smith will be grand marshal of the 2024 Night in Venice boat parade on July 20 in Ocean City, N.J. Smith, who owns a home in Ocean City, will be joined by family members for the 69th anniversary of the festive summer event.

Smith is one of the most recognizable personalities in sports media. For nearly 20 years at ESPN, Smith has produced in-depth interviews, vulnerable storytelling, game broadcasting and breaking news across every ESPN platform, and in almost every major sport, including college football and basketball, the NFL, NBA, NASCAR and IndyCar, Formula 1, the horse racing Triple Crown, including the Kentucky Derby, the Masters Tournament and the PGA Tour. He co-hosts “Marty & Mcgee” weekly on the SEC Network, during which he and co-host Ryan McGee meld sports with Southern culture, pop culture, news and nostalgia. Smith's 2019 memoir, “Never Settle: Sports, Family and the American Soul,” is a New York Times bestseller. His latest book, “Sideline CEO: Leadership Principles from Championship Coaches,” has become a standard of the leadership and motivational speaking circuit nationwide.

Smith's wife of 24 years, Lainie (Cocozza), is an Ocean City native, a 1995 graduate of Ocean City High School, and Miss Night In Venice 1995. The Smiths reside in Lake Norman, North Carolina, and have three children, Cambron (18), Mia (15) and Vivian (12). Every June, the Smith family makes the trek north to come back to Ocean City, where they spend the entire summer vacation season in “America's Greatest Family Resort.”

“It’s great that the Smith family has such close ties with Ocean City, and I’m honored to have Marty as our grand marshal for this year’s Night in Venice,” Mayor Jay Gillian said. “They’ll be right at home on the water for this summer’s spectacular event.” 

Two presenting sponsors will help add prizes and excitement to the 2024 Night in Venice in Ocean City on July 20.  ACME Markets returns as a presenting sponsor, and OCNJ Watersports will return this year (after its sister business, the Jet Drive Boat Exchange, was a presenting sponsor last year). ACME and OCNJ Watersports made cash and in-kind contributions to help enhance the 69th annual event this year.

“Best in Show” prizes (for boats over and under 24 feet) will include a $1,000 gift card to OCNJ Watersports (Beachy Tiki boat tours, Totally Tubular Watersports or Totally Tubular Aqua Park). The prize is good for one private tiki boat charter for up to 32 guests, but it also could be broken down and used for any of the OCNJ Watersports activities. 

Prizes for the other boat parade categories (“Best Decorated,” “Best Comic,” “Best Original” and “Best Musical” for boats over and under 24 feet) will include a $300 gift card to OCNJ Watersports for first place, $200 gift card for second place, and $100 gift card for third place. 

Prizes for the 14 zones in the house-decorating contest will include a $100 gift card to OCNJ Watersports for first place, $75 gift card for second place, and $50 gift card for third place.

The Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce will donate a one-year membership and two marketing email blasts (combined $600 value) to the “Best Commercial Entry” and “Best Community Organization/Non-Profit Entry” categories in the boat parade.

ACME Markets – with locations at Eighth Street and 34th Street in Ocean City – provides catered food trays to the lead entries in the boat parade, and they are a great resource for anybody planning a party along the parade route. 

The themed boat parade and decorated bayfront home contest provide a chance to be part of the highlight of the summer season in Ocean City. Thousands of spectators line the bayfront, and thousands more attend private parties at homes along the route from the Ocean City-Longport Bridge to Tennessee Avenue. A fireworks display will light up the bay and cap off the festivities on July 20.

Free shuttle transportation will be available and free grandstands will be set up at street ends along the route. ACME Markets and OCNJ Watersports are presenting sponsors for this year’s Night in Venice. For more information on participating in the event or attending, visit www.ocnj.us/niv or call 609-399-6111.