For more than a century, on the second Thursday each August, the tangled waves of runners and beachgoers on the Ocean City boardwalk part like menhaden fish for humpback whales—to make way for babies in buggies and toddlers on trikes.
Although it’s older than the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or the Miss America Pageant, the Ocean City Baby Parade is less about fancy floats and more about families staying up until 3 am with spray paint, fabric, cotton balls and glue.
People come to applaud the show choir and marching bands or wave at Queen Infanta, but they save their oohs and aahs for the dozens of children under 10 years old dressed in elaborate swaddling or last year’s Halloween costumes. There are cowboys, insects, lifeguards and Philadelphia Phillies baseball sluggers. Everyone pitches in, including older siblings who pull or push the red wagons, strollers and home-made floats.
Planning often begins a year out. Or, in the case of one of last year’s winners, Paula White of Collegeville, Pennsylvania, preparations began in 1986, when she and her then 15-month-old daughter, Jena, strolled down the boardwalk with their Sweet as Cotton Candy float.
Last year, in nearly the same costume and float, Paula now with Jena’s daughter, Delaney Leszcynski, won the top prize in the Fancy Division for children up to two years old. It wasn’t unusual for Paula. She has entered and won 16 times.
Registration opens in June at ocnj.us/babyparade. This year’s event takes place August 11 from 10:30 am–noon—ending just before afternoon nap time.
Looking for more fun at the Shore this summer? Check out our list of the best things to do, which, of course, includes attending Ocean City’s Baby Parade.