Ocean City Baby Parade: A Beloved Spectacle for Over a Century

Every August, onlookers gather to cheer on elaborately costumed babies, toddlers and children under 10.

The annual Baby Parade in Ocean City. 
Children under 10 years old take center stage at the annual Baby Parade in Ocean City. Photo by Jessica Orlowicz

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.

A baby dressed in all white is ready for the Ocean City Baby Parade.

Spectators go gaga for all the adorable babies at Ocean City’s annual parade. Photo by Jessica Orlowicz

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.

A participant dons a SpongeBob costume at the annual Ocean City Baby Parade.

Costumes are a major part of the parade. Photo by Jessica Orlowicz

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.

A baby participates in the annual Ocean City Baby Parade.

Participants strike a pose at the Ocean City Baby Parade in 2021. Photo by Jessica Orlowicz

Looking for more fun at the Shore this summer? Check out New Jersey Monthly’s list of the best things to do, which, of course, includes attending Ocean City’s Baby Parade.

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