Boardwalk Businesses

A row of businesses on the boardwalk in Ocean City. 

OCEAN CITY, Md. -- There may be some gaps in services for the waves of visitors to Ocean City this weekend. Lifeguards and other workers seem to be hard to find this year. 

The community, however, is finding workarounds. The Ocean City Beach Patrol will only have lifeguard stands every three blocks, but OCBP said they typically plan for that this time of year. 

"We’ll have 50 stands up on Saturday and Sunday and then we’ll have a rookie class from our surf rescue academy, 18 more will be doing their on-the-job-training with Crew Chiefs during the weekend and then Monday we’ll add them to the schedule," said Ward Kovacs. 

Kovacs, a lieutenant with OCBP, also said to make up for the gaps in between stands, beach goers will be seeing more tire tracks. 

"We actually added to our fleet of mobile patrols, so we'll have 15 ATV's out with guards and rescue swimmers on them," said Kovacs. 

OCBP has two more testing days, one on June 3rd and another on June 10th. The hope is those two days plus high schoolers and college students returning from class fill out the rest of the 40 needed positions. 

Again, 18 of those 40 will be filled on Monday when the Surf Rescue Academy wraps up. 

In terms of J1 workers, Ocean City businesses have seen better days. J1's are the foreign students who travel overseas to help out during the busy summer months. 

Amy Thompson, Executive Director for the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce, said reports from the state estimate a drastic decline from pre-pandemic levels. 

"2,600 students will be coming to the area this year, which is, pre-pandemic levels way down, way, way down," said Thompson. 

Thompson attributes the decline to a lack of affordable housing, but said businesses seem to be making the current staffing levels work. 

"It's uncomfortable, they'd prefer to have more staff to spread the work, to have their folks maybe not work as many hours but they're figuring it out," said Thompson. 

One employer who said he has it mostly figured out is Scott Heise, owner of Pizza Tugos. 

"Are we going to see more coming in, hopefully, the one's we have coming in right now, doing a great job, there's plenty of them," said Heise. "Let's hope we see more for the summer." 

Heise said within the next three weeks, Pizza Tugos will look to hire upwards of 200 employees, and Heise expects half of those to be J1's. 

Thompson said for the J1's who are going to be in Ocean City, the town has setup a few welcome events in June. They will provide resources like help with banking and safe travel tips. 

As far as seeing a bump in numbers goes, Thompson said she expects the current numbers to stay where they are for the summer. Thompson said the town is looking ahead to next summer and is looking at solutions to the lack of affordable housing.