- The Washington Times - Monday, May 13, 2002

ANNAPOLIS (AP) Businesses statewide will offer four weeks of discounts for police, military, fire and emergency medical services workers to thank those who work to protect the nation and to encourage early summer tourism.
Salute to the Services will begin Saturday with a parade of classic cars and hot rods on the Ocean City boardwalk and will end there June 14 with a Flag Day celebration.
The discounts will begin Sunday. About 250 businesses statewide are participating, offering such perks as two-for-one admission to the Babe Ruth Museum in Baltimore, discounts for the Hagerstown Speedway and all-day fishing trips on Calvert County charter boats.
The event originated in and centers on Ocean City, where about 100 businesses are involved, including hotels, restaurants, stores and golf courses.
"It's a way to say thank you to the people who serve our communities and our country," said Donna Abbott, media services manager for Ocean City. "Certainly, patriotism is at the forefront of everyone's feelings since September 11. We hope it'll be an annual event."
Dave Kane, a 33-year-old volunteer firefighter in Lutherville, said he plans on taking his wife and two children to Ocean City for one or two of the weekends. "I think it's great that businesses are kind of stepping up to the plate and offering discounts like that," Mr. Kane said.
Susan Jones, executive director of the Ocean City Hotel and Motel Restaurant Association, said businesses in the beach town also hope to spur tourism in the weeks before the peak summer season in July and August.
During May and July, Ocean City averages 200,000 to 250,000 visitors a weekend, said Miss Jones, who did not have an estimate of how that may change with the promotion.
Promotional materials were sent to military bases and police stations within a half-day drive to Ocean City, including those in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and New York.
Special events are planned throughout the promotion. More than 10,000 small U.S. flags will be distributed around Ocean City on Memorial Day weekend, and at 2 p.m. on May 25, visitors will be asked to walk out on the beach and wave their flags.
Mindy Bianca, public relations coordinator for the Maryland Office of Tourism Development, said she did not know of any other states that have such a promotion directed at the services, although Disney World and Universal Studios in Florida have similar campaigns.


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