OCEAN CITY, MD., MAY 26 -- They braved the endless Chesapeake Bay Bridge backups, endured the impatient squirming of small children and paid big bucks for a hotel room and meals.

For what? Today's soggy answer is to stand in line for a movie, to drive up and down the rain-slicked Coastal Highway in heavy traffic, to get a car tune-up or to go to a mall.

"We're doing the same things we'd be doing at home," said Peter Smirniotopoulos, of Alexandria, as he emerged with his family from the Gold Coast Mall. The children had even watched their favorite television cartoons. "It's Saturday morning," he explained.

This is Memorial Day weekend in Maryland's Atlantic coast resort town -- much like anywhere else when it rains, except more so. Once here, tourists are determined to make the most of it.

"There's not a whole lot we can do about it," Mayor Roland "Fish" Powell said of the weather. "It hurts, no doubt." He spent the morning cleaning house instead of planting flowers.

The rains started late Friday night.

They were torrential this morning, and the forecast is for more of the same Sunday, dampening the unofficial start of the summer season, which draws as many as 250,000 here on most weekends.

There may have been none damper than the 15 who participated this morning in the Bethany-Fenwick Chamber of Commerce five-kilometer beach run. "It was a torture test," said Dale Pusey, warming up hours later at the Greene Turtle bar.

The Biscotti family braved the boardwalk at 9 a.m. for french fries before fleeing back to their car. "It was like walking through a wave," said Sandy Biscotti, of Dundalk, Md., here for the weekend with her husband and daughters. Like many here for Memorial Day, this was the Biscottis' one Ocean City weekend of the year.

"Bound and determined to make it do," as Sandy Biscotti said, the family lined up for a special rainy-day movie matinee.

Also in line but less stoical were the Gleatons of Centreville. It had taken them most of yesterday to get here with their two young daughters.

They were camping because it was less expensive, but it still wasn't cheap.

Walter Gleaton had spent $40 to buy a grill and lighter fluid to cook dinner.

"We didn't plan. We just rolled," he said, as he shelled out $20 more for the movie.

For those not into running in the rain, going to movies or shopping in malls, there were other indoor opportunities.

"The kids are going to wander around their rooms and scream and holler. And then they're gonna throw up on everything," predicted Lucy Bunting, hostess at the English Diner, where Nancy and George Cavenee, of Frederick, were planning "a lot of TV" and "maybe the mall" with their sons, Michael, 7, and Joey, 12.

"This is our first Memorial Day here and probably our last," George Cavenee said.

The tent field adjoins Firestone A-1 Auto Care, where Greg Brill, a landscaper from Silver Spring, was having his car tuned up.

"It needed it. I figured today was a good day," he said. But having paid $90 for his room, he had no plans to cut short his stay.

"I'll probably go to a bar and watch the basketball game," he said.

Harvey Pritchett, of Vienna, and James Egan, of Washington, had played golf here yesterday and began today with the same intention. "It's soaked," said Egan of the golf course, where carts were banned today. "And there's two idiots out there walking."

Said Pritchett, "We'll probably play cards, drink a few beers and go to the American Legion Club."

All of which they could have done at home.

Five young men from Manassas cruising Coastal Highway last night thought they were in "fun city" doing things they couldn't do at home. Back home, said Todd Angel, 20, they couldn't even take a carefree ride in their buddy's jeep, making noise, blasting the radio, sitting high on the hood and dangling over the side.

Apparently they can't do that here either. About 9 p.m., Officer Eric Hutchinson pulled them over and handed driver Eddie Groves, 24, a $45 traffic ticket, charging Groves with negligent driving. And then it rained.