Ocean City mom’s beachy Christmas tree becomes vacation hotspot


OCEAN CITY, NJ (WPVI) – You may have heard of ‘Christmas in July’. However, today was more like July during the Christmas season. “Simple little things like a Christmas tree can make such an impression and make a big deal out of people,” Sue McElwee said on one day of summer in December.
McElwee, a stay-at-home mom of four, is responsible for the latest North Street beach vacation hotspot. “Last year we just stuck it in the ground like an umbrella and hoped for the best,” she said of the lone Christmas tree sitting in the sand. It was originally intended as an accessory for his family photos.

“It ended up being a very popular thing and tons of people would come and take their family photos,” McElwee said. “Everyone started to leave seashells and sharys and people started to put their names, their good wishes. ”

She felt compelled to bring the tree back for the 2020 holiday season, especially in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to the power of social media, neighbors and tourists are visiting in droves.

“A lot of people have said the pandemic has been something that takes them back to the old tradition,” said David Stout of Ocean City.

Carrying a bucket of water, Stout goes to the beach once a day. On his hands and knees, he washes by hand each shell that adorns the base of the tree.

“I am the keeper of the Christmas tree,” he says. “I go down every day and clean the shells to preserve all the wishes and memories of past people.”

Stout enjoys meeting families and volunteering to take their vacation photos.

“It’s just great being a part of the Ocean City community,” he said.

This community shines all year round. Although it is known as a summer vacation destination, Ocean City puts on a show for the vacation season. The city is adorned from head to toe with decorations and wreaths. Free horse and carriage rides are offered on certain weekends in December. In addition, various family businesses and boardwalk stores are open with security measures in place.

“There’s always a lot going on here which is really cool,” said Sue McElwee.

This includes even more Christmas trees appearing on beaches such as 21st Street and 55th Street in Ocean City. Other coastal communities such as Sea Isle and Ventnor are also sowing holiday cheer among the waves.

To learn more about Ocean City vacation events, visit their website.

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