Ripley's reopens in Ocean City after renovation, with sword swallower, magic and more
The five-ticket funhouse has been a top draw at the amusement park for more than 30 years. Wochit video by Keith Demko
The thermometer might have read 47 degrees Saturday afternoon, but the Ocean City Boardwalk was packed like a late spring day.
Stores were open and the smell of Thrasher's French fries was wafting along the boards, but the main event was Ripley's Believe It or Not.
The museum, which boasts 12 exhibits of what it describes as oddities, had undergone a makeover over the winter, and Saturday was the grand reopening.
"It's nice to see an iconic Ocean City institution improve over time," said Dennis Dare, Ocean City Town Councilman. "It looks great."
Members of the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce as well as members of the Ocean City Town Council were on hand to witness the transformation, as well as throngs of guests packing the halls.
They were there to see the changes to the halls that house the exhibits such as a shrunken head, a depiction of the world's tallest man and an exhibit featuring taxidermied animals with extra legs and heads.
And they weren't disappointed.
The museum got a fresh coat of paint as well as carpet to match exhibits.
But the oddities in the museum weren't the only attraction gathering a crowd Saturday.
A sword swallower, magician and balloon artist were on site to entertain the masses.
Ripley's had been closed since Jan 2., and the excitement of seeing the oddities among the new renovations was enough to bring out first-time visitors to the museum.
Robert Cruz, 43, of Laurel, Maryland, was among one of those first-time visitors, and he said he liked what he saw.
"It's pretty neat," he said. "I've never been in here before. There's a lot of cool stuff, and it looks good."
And Dare and Cruz weren't the only people pleased by what they saw.
Wayne Hartman, Ocean City Town councilman, agreed with his fellow councilman Dare that the changes were noticeable.
He added the changes are good not only for the museum but for Ocean City itself.
"It's good to see the museum improving to keep the visitors coming back," Hartman said. "Ripley's is an important brand, and it's great they have one of their locations in Ocean City."
Ripley's Believe It or Not has locations throughout the world, including in China, India, South Korea, Denmark and the Netherlands, as well as Key West, Florida; Chicago; New York City; and another Maryland location in Baltimore.
In total, the museum has 33 locations in 10 countries and in 12 states, according to the Ripley's Believe It or Not website.
What struck Hartman, he said, was the carpeting that matched the exhibits.
It's great, he said, and it's likely to keep people coming back.
One person who came back for the grand reopening was Melissa Hiltner, 32, of Baltimore.
This is her second time coming to the museum, she said, and she liked the updates to the museum that she saw.
"It's pretty neat," she said, agreeing with Cruz. "A fresh coat of paint makes everything look more lively."
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