OC Boardwalk performers draw crowds, tips
Acts range from puppeteers and musicians to artists
By Susan Canfora • Special To The Times • August 2, 2010
OCEAN CITY -- Bugs Bunny danced on the Boardwalk the other night, long gray legs kicking high as he moved in an exaggerated way.
"I think it's a favorite cartoon. Kids like this cartoon bunny. He is very friendly and he's very beautiful," said Denis Novokreshchenov of Russia, lifting Bug's head for a moment to make eye contact.
He is among dozens of street performers entertaining on the Boardwalk as passersby toss change and bills into their tip jars."Hey, you're a good dancer," somebody called to Bugs, and he beamed."Yes. Thank you," he called.
Street performers who show their driver's licenses at the City Clerk's Office, pay $7 and get their act approved, receive a permit allowing them to perform until the end of the calendar year.
They may not provide a service such as polishing fingernails or -- and somebody really wanted to -- whitening teeth.Because art is subjective, they are not asked to audition, said Kelly Allmond, deputy city clerk."If they think they're good, that's all that matters," she said.
Neither do they get fingerprinted or undergo a background check, so parents should carefully watch their children and not let them run up to the performers alone, she said.
This year, 349 permits were issued, fewer than the 450 last year."We are busiest issuing permits during Senior Week and the Fourth of July weekend," Allmond said.
One recent evening, a man balancing his toddler son on his shoulders approached a young woman twisting balloons into various shapes at the south end of the boardwalk."Is it free?" he asked. The little boy's eyes were wide, watching the balloons."Uh-huh," the woman said, but he put $5 in her tip container anyway.Most people tip, some generously.
Cellist Elizabeth Howse plays in her bare feet, often near the intersection of Somerset Street on the west side of the boards. The college student, studying music at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, also has a job at a resort jewelry store. She makes as much on tips playing for four hours on the boardwalk as she does working 20 hours selling jewelry.
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