Within four weeks, Ocean City will likely be filled with drag racing, excessive drinking, cars doing donuts and other unruly behaviors, as thousands of people flock to the city for informal H2Oi.
The Motor Events Task Force met on Friday to share Ocean City’s plans for reducing crime and damage at this year’s unapproved car rally.
H2Oi was once an organized car show in the area. Although the official event has since moved to New Jersey, many car enthusiasts celebrate on the East Coast.
Last year’s H2Oi resulted in more than 500 counts of allegations in Worcester County that did not involve minor traffic citations. Ocean City accounted for 396 of those cases.
Ocean City Police Chief Ross Buzzuro said the city built on its plan to handle this year’s H2Oi on what it has learned from previous years.
Here’s what you can expect at H2Oi 2021:
Low Speed Limits in Worcester County
The City of Ocean City will become a special events area from Tuesday, September 21 through Sunday, September 26.
In the meantime, all speed limits over 30 mph will be reduced to 30 mph.
Additionally, plans are underway to make all Worcester County a special event area during H2Oi. This will reduce the speed limit across the country.
In 2020:Crowds gather in parts of Ocean City city as unofficial car rally escalates
History:H2Oi’s downward spiral: from car shows in Ocean City to social media-powered ‘Havoks’
increased police presence
According to Buzuro, Ocean City police are preparing to have “all hands on deck” during the event.
Police presence on H2Oi Sundays will increase compared to previous years. The department usually has fewer officers on duty on Sundays, but it has made adjustments so more officers are committed to working on Sundays.
The Maryland State Police and the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office have partnered with the Ocean City Police Department to provide assistance and resources throughout the event.
Enhanced policing will also exist along Route 50 from Bay Bridge to Ocean City.
Background:H2Oi police deployment in Ocean City biggest in state’s history: MSP
Buzzuro advised that people traveling in Ocean City during H2Oi prepare for heavy traffic, especially Thursday through Saturday.
“If you don’t need to be on a coastal highway, I don’t think it would be the best idea (to drive on it) unless you absolutely have to,” he said.
According to Buzuro, the Rumble Strips will be “strategically” locations throughout Ocean City.
Along with this, vehicles considered unsafe on the road will also be towed. More than 40 tow trucks will assist the OCPD in towing.
In April, the Maryland Department of Transportation announced plans to increase enforcement between the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Ocean City through the Bay to Beach Highway Safety Initiative during H2Oi. Maryland Secretary of Transportation Greg Slater said local police would keep an eye on speeding, aggressive driving and any vehicles that do not meet the state’s safety standards during Safety Week.
Ocean City has signed an agreement with data collection companies. After this year, the city will collect information about who gets into H2Oi and where they go throughout the city and county.
Ocean City communications manager Jessica Waters said Ocean City will use the data collection to learn how to further reduce crime during a non-sanctioned incident.
Ocean City has taken into account many of the properties that have brought the biggest problems to H2Oi over the years.
Mayor Rick Meehan said he had reached out to one of these properties about past problems, and that the property now plans to rent out private security and take into account how many people are on the property this year. Huh.
Meehan and Buzzuro plan to contact several other properties about past issues to discuss how these issues can be prevented this year.
2021:Ocean City H2Oi . Looks to businesses for hiring personal security during
As with H2Oi 2021, Ocean City already has plans for H2Oi 2022.
In 2022, Ocean City is expected to host a three-day concert during H2Oi’s weekend. Additionally, the city intends to host a sporting event that weekend.
“For the last 10 years when the pop-up rally took place here, we’ve kind of been on the defensive,” Meehan said. “I think we all think it’s time to take offense and decide our own destiny.”
Maddie Aiken is the community reporter for Delmarva Now. Send her story suggestions to email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @madsaiken.