Ocean City starts the summer season off right with the zany Business Persons Plunge Friday. By Maddy VitaleTom Giacinto was running late Friday morning. But the vice president of marketing for The Title Company of Jersey, couldn’t go to his appointment minus a tie. For the past eight years, the businessman hasn’t jumped into the ocean for the Ocean City Business Persons Plunge without one.He lucked out.“I went to a thrift store I knew in town and found this one for $2,” he said with a laugh showing off his newly purchased garment. It was perfect, he said. A maroon tie with stars – a power tie – to complete the look of his dark blue and surprisingly well-kept suit.Tom Giacinto takes the plunge every year.“I wear it every year for the plunge and take it to the cleaners to sit in my closet for another year. It actually doesn’t look that bad,” Giacinto said. “It is a bit big on me now.”But the shoes, he said, get tossed. Giacinto has a method. He wears the same shoes until they are just perfect for the ocean. Then he buys a new pair that will likely end up with the same fate as the shoes the year before.“It’s an exciting and fun way to welcome the summer,” Giacinto said of the whacky event. “You get the business people out here in suits and we all go in the ocean. I am always excited to do it.”Business people created a fun spectacle for onlookers as they march down Moorlyn Terrace Beach into the waves.Giacinto was joined by about 150 other business people in the community to happily welcome the busy summer tourism season with a splash.The build up to the actual dip kept media hopping – snapping photos and running around, while onlookers reveled in the zaniness of the Ocean City tradition.The group of business people marched down Moorlyn Terrace beach and into the water. Some waded in just enough water to get their legs wet, while other good sports dove right in, briefcase, dress, suit and all.The business people luck out with mild water temperatures.Stacy Demcher, a real estate agent with Keller Williams, participates in the plunge ever year. She helps organize the event.One thing about Demcher, she doesn’t mind getting wet. She even opts for high-end fashion to do it in.She wore a black Ralph Lauren dress and black heels. This year she decided to wear lower shoes – four-inch heels instead of five-inch heels she wore the year before.“I love doing this every year,” Demcher said. “It really is a great way to promote Ocean City and start the summer season right. Every year the event grows a little bit more.” Creator of the Business Persons Plunge John Walton with retired Ocean City Public Relations Director Mark Soifer and people from Keller Williams Paul Chiolo and his son Anthony, Kaitlyn Lawlor (pink shirt) and Stacey Demcher.John Walton, who created the event in 2004, said it is a great way to attract attention to the city at the start of the season. Year after year, the Business Persons Plunge generates a lot of free publicity and media coverage for Ocean City to start the tourism season.“We get a lot of people out for the event. We even have the paparazzi,” Walton joked.Anthony and Paul Chiolo of Keller Williams take the plunge.Walton also credited Mark Soifer, the city’s former Public Relations Director, for helping start the event. Soifer is responsible for many of the whacky, tourist-friendly events held every year in Ocean City.Soifer called the Business Persons Plunge very exciting.“This is always a great event. John does a great job with it. It is an unusual kickoff to the season,” Soifer said. “It definitely creates a lot of media attention.” Keller Williams employee Linda Walker gets a photo with Mr. Mature America Bill Quain.Mr. Mature America Bill Quain celebrated his first official role as the 2018 title holder with a dip in the Ocean.“Isn’t this unbelievable,” Quain said. “The weather is so beautiful. This is my first big thing as Mr. Mature. I am so excited about it. I love summer and I love this community.”But the frivolity that captured the attention of beachgoers who flocked to the beaches to enjoy the ocean, sea breezes and 80 degree temperatures, also foreshadowed what city officials are hoping will continue throughout the season. The Boardwalk was bustling, and people strolled in and out of businesses.Councilwoman Karen Bergman and Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Michele Gillian enjoy the day.“Today marks 100 days of great summer weather. The Business Persons Plunge is a great symbol of that,” said Michele Gillian, executive director of the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce. “We are hoping for all good things for the business community this season.”A companion event, also zany in its own right, was the annual Unlocking of the Ocean. Director of Special Events Michael Hartman kicked off the event.Soifer was called out of retirement to do the honors to ceremonially unlock the ocean with a large wooden key.Martin Z Mollusk, one of Soifer’s creations, did a dance.Martin Z Mollusk gets into the spirit.Ocean City Councilmembers Bob Barr, Tony Wilson, Keith Hartzell, Karen Bergman, Michael DeVlieger and Council President Pete Madden, along with Chamber of Commerce President David Allegretto, Miss Ocean City Madison Leigh Kennelly, Junior Miss Ocean City Hope Aita and Little Miss Ocean City Ginger Mumman, listened as Mayor Jay Gillian gave his remarks.Gillian reminded the crowd to remember those who served in the military as Memorial Day approaches. He then thanked his wife, Michele, for her support, the council and the community.“Welcome to Ocean City. Have fun and enjoy. Everyone, please be safe. We have a great council, a great team and a great city. Enjoy and thank you for being here,” Gillian said.Then Soifer officially dug the ceremonial key into the sand, symbolizing the start of the summer season. Retired Ocean City Public Relations Director Mark Soifer officially unlocks the ocean.Councilman Tony Wilson takes the plunge seriously.Fire Chief Jim Smith with Beach Patrol Chief Mark Jamieson say they are ready for a good summer.The Red Raiders Marching Band performs.The Business Persons Plunge is always a fun time, John Walton (on right) says.Dignitaries enjoy the day.Every year the Business Persons Plunge grows, organizers say.
DES MOINES — An eastern Iowa farmer who’s been in the legislature nearly 12 years is proposing a new “corn state” license plate design. Senator Tim Kapucian of Keystone has drafted a bill that would carry out his vision.“It’ll say at the top of the plate: ‘The Corn State’ and then it’ll be a white plate with black letters,” Kapucian says, “and then behind the lettering there’ll be some type of an ear of corn.”Kapucian says when he saw how popular the state’s new “black out” specialty license plates have been, he decided to ask his fellow legislators to embrace this idea. Kapucian expects plenty of farmers to be interested in getting one of these plates for their pick-ups.“I know I’m going to be in line to get one of these if we get it done,” Kapucian says.Kapucian’s neighbor has a license plate collection. It includes a mid-1950s black-and-white plate that has “THE CORN STATE” in capital letters at the bottom of the plate.“Every state has something on their license plate that makes them stand out and we used to have that…If people recognize an ear of corn, they’ll think: ‘Iowa!” he says. “You know you see the bucking bronc with the cowboy, we know that’s Wyoming.”Kapucian’s plate plan has cleared a Senate subcommittee. His bill would have to pass through at least five other steps in the legislative process before it could be sent to the governor for review.