Violinist, Street Performer Wins Court Battle Against Ocean City - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Violinist, Street Performer Wins Court Battle Against Ocean City


OCEAN CITY, Md.- After being told to lower his music on Ocean City's Boardwalk last summer, violinist William Hassay, Jr. picked up a major win against the town in court and can now once again perform along the boardwalk.

The resort town will pay Hassay $137,000 and drop the noise ordinance. The settlement includes $21,000 for Hassay's lost income, $105,000 in attorneys' fees and $11,000 in court costs, according to the ACLU.

Hassay had been playing his violin on the boardwalk since 1995, but was told by police, in June 2012, to keep his distance or possibly face fines for noise, according to court documents.

Town officials prohibited street performers from performing within 30-feet-of a store on the boardwalk. But a judge has ruled against that ordinance. So boardwalk musicians can play as close as they want- for now.

"You come down to the boardwalk, there's performers everywhere," said Rich Mathabel, of Ocean City. "It's part of the culture here. You know to take that away, kinda like taking part of the boardwalk away."

Street musicians can now return to the boardwalk without fear of being cited for a noise violation.

"Part of the mystic of the boardwalk is walking down here and seeing all of that," said Mathabel. "It would definitely take some of the fun away."

But Councilman Brent Ashley said music to one person, may be noise to another, which is why the lawsuit boils down to the projection of sound. But the fact that this isn't the first time a street performer went head-to-head in court with the town of Ocean City, some musicians believe the town is attacking street performers. But Councilman Ashley said that's not the case.

"I don't think there's any alienation between the council and street performers," said Councilman Ashley.

Police in Ocean City have not released the new length requirement on the boardwalk for street performers. But police hope to have new guidelines on the book by next summer.

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