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New season, new attractions in Ocean City

OCEAN CITY — The boardwalk has been a tourism nucleus for decades.

And while it stays relatively the same year after year, with a multitude of stores, eateries and other attractions, each season brings a few changes.

This season, visitors will notice the actual boardwalk has received a facelift. During the off-season, some portions of the 2.5-mile span were reconstructed. It’s easy to tell where upgrades were made, as the new boards are a lighter shade of brown.

Brent Ashley, an Ocean City councilman who walks about five miles a day, usually on the boardwalk, said the new boards feel good, that he can “feel it in his feet.”

Just off the boardwalk in the beach area of North Division Street, new free events will soon be rolled out. On Sundays starting May 27, three light shows will be put on every night using a five-story inflatable sphere with aerial lasers. On Tuesday nights, from May 29 through Sept. 4, Ocean City will host a beach fireworks show.

“Those are our two biggest new events, and they’re occurring just off the boardwalk,” said Ocean City spokeswoman Donna Abbott.

At the Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum at the southern tip of the boardwalk, two new exhibits will be offered to patrons. Through the end of May, a nostalgic exhibit is open that features swimwear, memorabilia, postcards and other items from 1940s Ocean City. Starting June 20, an exhibit chronicling the history of surfing in the resort is slated to open. It’ll cover the earliest days of surfing in town to current surf culture, shops and tournaments.

“The surfing exhibit I think is really going to be something people want to see,” Abbott said. “It’s part of our culture, really.”

There’s at least one new restaurant on or near the boardwalk — that’s Kim’s Cafe & Marketplace at 1503 Philadelphia Ave. Owner Kim Smith said she will offer a variety of foods that are healthier than your traditional boardwalk choices of fries, pizza and the like.

Smith’s restaurant specializes in wraps, salads, smoothies and fresh-squeezed juices for patrons who are trying to maintain their beach bodies. Smith opened the restaurant, she said, because she was looking for healthier options for her family to eat.

“There’s really nowhere to get something healthy [down here],” she said. “We’re trying to do some healthy things.”