Ocean City —
After 37 years on the job, Martin Z. Mollusk doesn’t need sun to predict summer’s arrival to Ocean City.
Expert weather prognosticator Mollusk took to Ocean City’s Ninth Street beach among the threat of rain on Thursday, May 3, and successfully predicted summer’s early arrival to the cheers of the small crowd that braved the heavy clouds and overcast conditions.
Martin Z. Mollusk Day is the warm-weather adaptation of the Punxsutawney, Pa. Groundhog Day tradition. Each year, Mollusk, Ocean City’s mascot who hails from Tepid Swamp, La., is removed from his cage and placed onto Ocean City’s beach to seek his shadow.
If Mollusk sees his shadow, summer comes one week early to Ocean City’s shores. Mollusk has successfully found his shadow each year except one.
That year, only half of Mollusk’s shadow was visible. Just as he predicted, summer came three and a half days early.
However, Mollusk’s sunless prediction this year required some extra preparation.
In addition to opening songs by the World’s Only Wind Chimes Band and Shelley the Mermaid (Suzanne Muldowney), Mark Soifer, Ocean City publicist and Mollusk’s spiritual advisor, cooked up a special batch of Martin ala Mode, a tasty concoction of marinated tree bark, pinecones and swamp water from Mollusk’s native Tepid Swamp, La.
The hearty mix “increases his (Martin’s) perceptive powers and helps him prognosticate,” Soifer said.
Soifer is also the self-proclaimed founder of NASCRAB, the National Association of Crab Activities at the Beach. He said that he attended to make sure everything ran smoothly in case of inclement weather.
Mollusk was bathed ceremoniously in Martin ala Mode just before he was placed on the sand for his shadow searching.
Capt. Claw (Doug Jewell) and Inspector Clue Slow (Ron MacCloskey) verified Martin’s prediction with a flashlight and a magnifying glass.
“We’re here to celebrate Ocean City, the only place where the winter is warmer than the spring,” Clue Slow joked. “Today is a little chilly, but today we’re here to talk about the summer. Which means all I have to do is mention the fall, and say happy birthday Frankie Valli, and then we have Frankie Valli and all four seasons.”
Valli was born May 3, 1934.
However, though the unseasonably warm winter has outshone the chillier spring, it hasn’t kept tourists from flocking to the shore town in both seasons.
Michele Gillian, Director of the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce, said that summer unofficially started Jan. 1 in Ocean City.
“We’ve seen such nice weather,” Gillian said. “We’ve seen a lot of our second homeowners and people up here enjoying it and riding their bikes all throughout the year. We’re so excited about Martin Z. Mollusk seeing his shadow because now we know officially that summer will begin a week early. We’re really excited about that but the business community has had a great winter, which runs right into the summer. Rentals are up 20 percent, accommodations are up 10 percent, beach tags are ahead so all the indicators are right there for us to have a successful season. We just need Mother Nature with us now.”
“The season has been going great so far. Even though the weather has been cool, the weekends have been strong so far,” Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian said. “As for Martin Z. Mollusk, that’s what Ocean City is all about. It’s a great way for people to look at Ocean City and see how family oriented we are.”
“Every year it’s a little different,” bystander Joe DeSanto said. “Mark (Soifer) is a great guy and he always puts something together and it always works somehow.”
DeSanto said he trusted Martin’s prediction that summer would arrive one week early.