FIRST DAY AT THE BEACH (Jan. 1, 2015)Boardwalk Run/Walk: A 5-kilometer run starts at 1 p.m. in front of the Ocean City Music Pier. Race-day registration begins 11:30 a.m. on the Boardwalk across from the Music Pier at Moorlyn Terrace. Shirts for all who pre-register and while supplies last. Refreshments are available after the race. Entry fee is $25 race day. Award categories include Male and Female first, second and third overall and first, second and third in the following categories: 14 and under, 15-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70 and over. Contact Race Director Mike Givens (609) 861-0674 or access [email protected] Plunge: The Ocean Plunge starts at 2 p.m. and is free to all. Participants should check in at registration tables in front of the Music Pier to sign a waiver and receive their complimentary BEACH NUT CERTIFICATE. The plunge is normally held at beaches on the south side of the Music Pier going towards 9th St. You will be advised the exact location when you sign waiver. Only plunge in the areas where bathers are lined up in front of ribbon. The waters in this area will be guarded by Ocean City Marine Police to ensure safety.HERO Campaign sponsorship: Members of the HERO Campaign will have a table in front of the Music Pier with information about its program promoting the use of designated drivers. The Hero Campaign was established in memory of Navy Ensign John Elliott of Egg Harbor Township. Elliott was killed in a head-on-collision with a drunken driver on July 22, 2000, two months after graduating with merit from the United States Naval Academy. He was driving home for his mother’s birthday celebration at the time of his death.“We are looking forward to partnering with Ocean City on these iconic First Day events which promote family fun and responsibility,” noted HERO Campaign chairman, Bill Elliott, John Elliott’s father. He added that the HERO Campaign has been proud of its ongoing association with Ocean City over the past 14 years through First Night, the Night In Venice Boat Parade, Miss Night in Venice Pageant and its annual HERO Walk. Michele Gillian, chairperson of the First Night/First Day Committee echoed Elliott’s comments saying that the HERO Campaign has been an important partner over the years for the City’s alcohol- free-festival and its emphasis on personal responsibility.Although the plunge has no entrance fee, participants who wish to contribute $20 or more, and sign a designated driver pledge and release form, will receive a long sleeve commemorative HERO Campaign shirt and membership certificate. Online registration is available at www.herocampaign.org or at (609) 626-3880.Shopping Extravaganza: Also on Jan. 1, there will be an all day SHOPPING EXTRAVAGANZA on Asbury Avenue from 5th to 14th Streets, voted the number one downtown in South Jersey. The annual First Plunge is scheduled for 2 p.m. Jan. 1, 2015 at Ninth Street Beach in Ocean City, NJ.Ocean City marks the 23rd anniversary of its popular nonalcoholic New Year’s Eve celebration this year on Wednesday, Dec. 31, and as many as 10,000 are expected to attend.All-inclusive admission buttons are good for about 70 entertainment programs at 16 different venues in Ocean City, and the evening ends with a midnight fireworks display visible from the beach and Boardwalk. First Day events on Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015, include a 5-kilometer run and a polar plunge.The two-day First Night/First Day celebration has become a highlight of Ocean City’s event calendar. Here’s what you need to know: How to purchase admission buttons:Buttons ($20) are good for all events. Children age 2 and under are free.By phone: Call 609-399-1412.In person: Buttons can be purchased at the Welcome Center on the Route 52 causeway (9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily), at Stainton’s Square, Eighth Street and Asbury Avenue (10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily) and at City Hall (9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily).Online: Purchase First Night buttons online at firstnightocnj.com.Get tickets now: Sales are capped at 10,000 and buttons do sell out in some years.Angel Fund for those who can’t afford buttons: Call (609) 399-6111, ext. 9300 to request buttons or to support the fund.When: The First Night event schedule runs 4 p.m. through the midnight fireworks on Wednesday, Dec. 31.Events:See the full First Night entertainment schedule.See descriptions of the different programs. Highlights:Ice-skate on a temporary ice rink (skates provided) set up near Sixth Street and Boardwalk. Children will enjoy pony rides, inflatables, magicians, a Cat in the Hat performance, jugglers, magician Chad Juros and much more. There will be Broadway performances, comedians, a Mummers String Band, the Ocean City Pops and the fabulous Grease Band.Two legendary groups, the original Blue Notes and the Trammps, are scheduled to perform on the Ocean City Music Pier. The nation’s leading Abbott and Costello performers will amaze you, the Allo Puppets will charm you and the Hegeman String Band will have you dancing in the aisles. You can enjoy a view of the stars at the High School Planetarium. Fireworks ring in the New Year.Parking and transportation: All municipal parking lots and metered parking are free. Jitneys will provide free transportation from 5 p.m. until midnight for button-holders, operating continuously between sites starting at the Ocean City Transportation Center (Ninth Street and Haven Avenue) and Seventh Street Parking Lot (Seventh Street and Central Ave.). For a route map and complete information, visit the First Night website.Taste of the Shore: The Taste of the Shore at Ocean City High School offers samples from the city’s and region’s finest restaurants. Tickets are $21 Adults/$9 Children. Make reservations at eatinocnj.com. For information on other First Night food options, visit First Night website. There will be light Boardwalk fare available at many locations.Sponsors: Primary sponsors include Gillian’s Wonderland Pier, the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce, Ocean City Home Bank, Ocean City Tabernacle and Ocean City Free Public Library. This year, the event introduces new sponsors: the HERO Campaign for designated drivers and Shore Orthopaedic University Associates. Proceeds from the event benefit charities, such as: scholarships for Ocean City High school students, the After Prom Committee, the Ronald J. Moretti Foundation, the HERO Foundation and Waves of Caring.History of First Night: First Night in Ocean City and was modeled after an alcohol-free New Year’s Eve celebration in Boston that marked the nation’s bicentennial in 1976. The first celebration in Ocean City included 25 entertainment acts in five different locations with admission buttons selling for $8 ($5 before Dec. 26). About 800 buttons were sold.