Ocean City, Maryland, perhaps the premiere beach destination on the East Coast, is a water-loving vacationer’s dream. A warm, sandy surf, top notch water parks, the iconic boardwalk featuring resort and spa hotels, arcades, restaurants, and walk-around food (you must try Thrasher’s Fries-no ketchup allowed) have beckoned families for over a century. A lovely, traditional, departure from the fast-paced daily grind where visitors can take the kids and hope to escape. Until now. Ocean City summer 2017 is primed to be not so much of a family resort as about girls gone wild.
Chelsea Covington, advocate for women to discard shirts and undergarments, and allow the ‘girls’ to roam free and unfettered, has upped the beach community’s G-rating to a solid R, by sending a letter of protest to Ocean City Mayor Richard Meehan, last August. The letter, a passionate statement about gender equality, stated:
Maryland has an “absolute prohibition” standard against gender classification, meaning genders cannot be treated differently. If men are allowed to go topless on the beach, Covington argues, then women should be able to as well.
Meehan immediately committed the politically safe move and spiked the explosive request to Worcester County’s State’s Attorney, Beau Oglesby, who straightaway lobbed the flaming ball to the Attorney General of Maryland, Brian Frosh. Phew. Believed to be on the bench and out of play, Meehan sat back and waited for an interpretation of the law and subsequent directives, and assured Covington there would be an opinion from Frosh in three to nine months.
The nine months rolled around faster than anticipated, with temperatures rapidly rising, beach season washed upon Ocean City like a tidal wave on a child’s sand castle with a deafening roar. And, regrettably, despite the masterful ninja moves in hot button issue deflection and delegation, Meehan was forced to come up with a solution to Covington’s request. And, he certainly did, milksop as it may be:
Authorities in Ocean City issued a memo this week directing the beach patrol not to confront bare-chested women or ask them to cover up regardless of complaints. The policy is to stand until the Maryland Attorney General’s Office opines on state indecent exposure laws after a local beachgoer declared that if men can go sans tops, then women can, too.
This hardline approach of ignoring women with liberated breasts replaces the previous policy of, “hey, you can’t do that.” And now, no one in Ocean City is happy with this ‘tit-for-tat’ attempt to satisfy all interested parties.
Chelsea Covington issued this statement, “we need some official declaration so that people aren’t harassed, and so the police know what to do. Officers can only do what they’re trained, and if they aren’t given proper training, they could make false arrests or false fines.”
Meehan, supported by the entire city council, is unanimous in their commitment to keeping the beach free of women unleashing their breasts and parading around expressing their freedom:
“While we respect Ms. Covington’s desire to express what rights she believes she may have, Ocean City is a family resort and we intend to do whatever is within our ability to also protect the rights of those families that visit us each year,” Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan said in a statement.
While anxiously awaiting the opinion from Frosh, Covington, Meehan, the city council, and local businesses simply must accept that there will be a new attraction(s) on the bustling family seashore. Whether this nonsensical non-policy will negatively impact the many businesses associated with the beach remains to be seen. But if I had to guess, the mass invasion of teenage boys visiting Ocean City, Maryland this summer might boost pizza and soft drink sales through the roof.