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Ocean City, Md. has built a reputation as a family-friendly beach resort, but some residents are voicing concerns after two separate stabbing incidents took place earlier this month.
One of the stabbings occurred on the boardwalk, and one farther uptown in North Ocean City. In the latter incident, there were three stabbing victims — an 18-year-old woman, a 19-year-old man, and a 20-year-old man.
"You know, what everyone is really observing here is that we have a changing clientele this time of year," says Steve Green, the editor and publisher of the Maryland Coast Dispatch newspaper. "Early June [and] late May is known as Junebug season, and some of the arrests are clearly Junebug incidents."
Local residents often refer to the teens who come to the beach after high school graduation as "Junebugs." But some people say the Junebugs are not their concern this year; they're more concerned about rumors of a gang presence in Ocean City.
"There's social media documentation where we had screen shots sent to us, where there was some kind of rivalry that was going to take place in Ocean City," says Green. "So these are things that don't sit well, obviously."
Ocean City police spokesman Mike Levy says concerns about gangs are way overblown.
"We do not have homegrown gangs in Ocean City," says Levy. "There is no organized gang-type activity here, and if there was, we would be combatting it with every resource available to us to send the message, and I think we continue to be very vigilant about that."
He also said crime increases are normal when you have a huge spike in population, like you do every year in Ocean City during the summer.
"We are not any worse this year than we were in previous years," he says. "In fact, if you want to look at some raw data, we're actually a little bit better."
Dan Troiano, who owns a boardwalk boutique called Dimensions, says the recent violence doesn't appear to be dissuading people from visiting the town. He says the only thing that really keeps the crowds away is bad weather. And he thinks the recent increase in crime is just a blip on the radar screen.
"You know, every season starts out a little worse, and I get a little worried, but then they all go away," he says. "As soon as the rates go up and it's more family time, they disappear and it turns into a nice town."
[Music: "Sea of Love" by Tom Waits from Brawlers / "My Only Swerving" by El Ten Eleven from El Ten Eleven]
The first commercial-scale hop production and processing facility in the region is being planned out in Loudoun County, further adding to the region's burgeoning beer business.