OCEAN CITY, Md. (WJZ) — Ocean City bills itself as a family-friendly destination but a Vegas-style street performer hit the boardwalk this summer creating a wave of controversy.
Mary Bubala reports parents are complaining but police say their hands are tied.
A woman dressed in a bikini pole dancing on the Ocean City Boardwalk is drawing crowds and criticism.
Ocean City leaders say they have no power to ask her to leave because two years ago, the ACLU sued the town over the street performer’s first amendment rights—and won.
“Basically the street performers can go up there as long as they aren’t breaking any other laws and they’re performing and exercising their first amendment rights,” said Mayor Rick Meehan. “They have every right to be up on the boardwalk.”
The Ocean City police department has received dozens of complaint calls on the pole dancer. Many visitors are stunned by the performance. Some people say at night, the boardwalk has more of a club feel and less of a family atmosphere.
“I think it’s very offensive. I don’t think that they should be allowed to do anything they want on the boardwalk. I definitely don’t want her seeing people pole dancing on the boardwalk,” said Jennifer Drechsler.
“I’m all in favor of self-expression but there is a limit and I think this is a public place. It’s a family place and I don’t think it’s appropriate for anyone to come out and bare themselves,” said Elijah Etheridege.
The town says it will seek legal counsel to determine if this type of act is allowed.
“It’s not going to go away. The Constitution of the United States isn’t going to change but we have to do whatever we can do to make sure that the public out on the boardwalk is getting the Ocean City experience they’re looking for,” Meehan said.
This summer, Ocean City banned profanity on the boardwalk and by next year, most of the beach will be smoke free.
Ocean City police say at this time, they can’t take action against the pole dancer and they do not know her identity.