Eagles Finally Win Their Lombardi TrophyOn February 4, the sports world made a never-before-seen turn on its axis as the Philadelphia Eagles won their first-ever Super Bowl championship and first NFL title since 1960.The Eagles not only triumphed 41-33 in the big game to set off wild celebrations throughout the region and a parade two days later drawing over a million revelers, they did so in dramatic fashion against the NFL’s so-called Evil Empire, the New England Patriots.What does this have to do with Ocean City? Just ask any of the thousands of folks walking around town wearing green.Teachers Randy Kohr and Carrie Merritt got students at Ocean City Primary School pumped up for an Eagles win. The theme of the rally was the “underdog,” not only for the Eagles, but for shelter animals. The school made a donation to the Humane Society of Ocean City. Investing in InfrastructureThe Ocean City government invested time, money and resources during 2018 for long-needed improvements to its infrastructure.Mayor Jay Gillian and City Council approved spending $8 million on a North End drainage project to lessen flooding between 2nd and 8th streets, another large section of the Boardwalk was replaced and a record number of streets were re-paved.There is still more to be done, and some of the improvements happened in previous years. However, 2018 was unprecedented; the upgrades were done on a scale never seen before. Driving around town became a short-term challenge with the numerous road closings and detours taking place. In the longterm, drivers will enjoy smooth going on previously pothole-marred and bumpy streets.The City also acquired gas stations and eyesore properties along the 9th Street corridor, the main entrance into town, and converted the areas to landscaped space. The work dramatically improves the “first impression” for visitors coming into town.A section of the Boardwalk replacement project took place in front of the Ocean City Music Pier in 2018.Your Happy PlaceCoastal Living Magazine, which named Ocean City as having America’s Best Beach in 2016 following an online poll, put OC back in the national spotlight this year when residents and fans of the city again provided the most on-line votes to earn the title as “America’s Happiest Seaside Town.”Ocean City crushed the nine other finalists to take the honors, making everyone in town, well, happy.“Our success in these polls is a testament to Ocean City’s enduring appeal to generations of residents and guests now spread across the country,” Greater OC Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Michele Gillian said.Historical Museum Hosts, Awards 10,000th VisitorThe Ocean City Historical Museum has a lot to be proud of. It does a great job of telling the story of OC’s rich history. Earlier this month it achieved a major milestone, hosting its 10,000th visitor for the year, which is an alltime high.Earlier this month the Golluber family of Oreland, Pa. stepped into the Museum and were immediately met with wild cheers by museum staffers. Jonathan Golluber, accompanied by wife Lisa, sons Lucas and Cody and family dog Luna received a selection of Ocean City-themed gifts in recognition as the 10,000th visitor to check out the museum during 2018.Jonathan Golluber, left, his sons, Cody and Lucas, his wife, Lisa, and the family dog, Luna, enjoy their visit to the Ocean City Historical Museum as the 10,000th visitor. (Courtesy Ocean City Historical Museum)OCFD Douses Major FireTwo duplexes were destroyed and a third home suffered extensive damage as a major blaze ripped through the homes two days after Christmas.Local firefighters, assisted by other area departments, risked their lives in bringing the fire under control in the early morning hours of December 27th on the 4800 block of Central Avenue.Happily, no one was occupying the houses when the call came in.“We are just thankful no one was hurt,” said Denise D’Andrea, close friend of one of the duplex owners, Chris Cashman. “We are very thankful to the firefighters.”.City Abandons Plan to Buy Former Car DealershipA City plan to purchase nearly a city block of prime Ocean City real estate to be used for open space and/or a new Police headquarters was dropped when a local tax watchdog organization obtained enough petition signatures to block the deal.The site of a former Chevrolet dealership between 16th and 17th streets bordered by Haven and Simpson avenue, owned by brothers Jerry and Harry Klause, was to be purchased by Ocean City for $9 million. But the group Fairness in Taxes (FIT) believed the price was $2.5 to $3 million too high and collected enough petition signatures to halt the purchase.On November 27th, City Council formally rescinded the deal, but Council President Peter Madden said the local government would continue to pursue any opportunities to obtain much-needed open space in town.This plot of land, the former location of an auto dealership, was nearly sold to the City until the efforts of a local tax watchdog group halted the sale.Girls Hoopsters Beat Mainland on Fourth Try, Win South Jersey Title The Ocean City girls basketball squad, three-time losers to arch-rival Mainland earlier in the season, came up big when it counted most.The Red Raiders, defending South Jersey Group III champions, came up short against the Stangs twice during the regular season and lost by two points in a bitterly-contest Cape Atlantic League championship game at Stockton University in February. But when the Raiders clinched a berth in the Final on their cross-bay rivals’ packed home gym, it was a very different story. Mainland came into the game undefeated at 28-0 and were the top seed in the tournament. However, when the ball was tipped ofn their fourth meeting, the Red Raiders showed superior poise and a lockdown defense to stun Mainland 36-32. When the team bus prepared to leave Linwood for the 10-minute ride home, they were given an Ocean City Police and Fire Department escort with sirens blaring. By Tim KellyWhat a year it was! As Ocean City and its residents look forward to an amazing year ahead, it’s worth one last peek at some of the highlights of 2018. It was an exciting and eventful year in America’s Greatest Family Resort.This is not a definitive list of the stories of the year, merely one reporter’s samplings of some of the most significant news stories and accomplishments of 2018. Readers are invited to list any of their own picks for the year’s top stories on our Facebook page.Here goes:Excellence in EducationIt’s no secret that Ocean City has an outstanding public school system. Beach, Boardwalk, public safety, surf and sand notwithstanding, the Ocean City schools are one of the top considerations for young families looking to move here from other regions.In 2018, the world took notice, resulting in some individual honors that reflected the schools’ overall quality.Amy T. Andersen, an American Sign Language teacher in the district, was named a National Teacher of the Year Finalist, New Jersey’s Teacher of the Year and a winner of California Casualty National Award for Teaching Excellence.Ocean City High School Principal Matt Jamison was named New Jersey’s Principal of the Year by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.Last but not least, Dr. Kathleen Taylor, Superintendent of Schools, was selected as New Jersey’s Superintendent of the Year by the New Jersey Association of School Administrators.If any other school district has racked up that many statewide and national honors in the same year, we’re not aware of it.From left, Dr. Kathleen Taylor, Amy Andersen and Matt Jamison (right) all earned major recognition this year for their work in the Ocean City Schools. Between Andersen and Jamison is Christina Ramos of California Casualty, which presented Andersen with $500 as part of her Excellence in Teaching honors. There’s an App for ThatDuring the 2018 summer season, Ocean City became one of the first New Jersey resort communities to develop and launch an app for smartphones.Ocean City’s Vacation App, which can be downloaded for free on the City’s website, enables visitors to enhance their stay with cashless purchases. Instead of fumbling for the right credit card or worrying about carrying cash, Vacation App users complete their transactions with a few taps on their phones.In addition, restaurant and lodging reservations, information on local products and services and much more can be accessed through the App.OCNJDaily majority owner Ken Wisnefski, who is also founder and owner of Camden-based digital marketing firm Webimax, developed the app. For this and many other innovative and successful marketing strategies, Wisnefski was later named by the Philadelphia Business Journal as one of 2018’s Most Admired CEOsVisit www.oceancityvacation.com for more information. After three close losses to Mainland during the season, the Ocean City girl’s basketball team defeated the Mustangs on their home court to with the South Jersey Group III championship.