Traditionally, Memorial Weekend is a very difficult time for Ocean City. Each year we learn more from the previous year, but it's hard to be totally prepared for a population increase from about 10,000 residents to 200,000.

Though there are, of course, lifeguards on hand, many of those who have been hired are college students who have not arrived in town and undergone the proper testing and training to be placed on the beach. The same is true for many of our summer police officers, who are pre-law students and must undergo specific training and testing before they can be given the responsibility of protecting the public.

As a small town with approximately 5,000 voting residents, the task we have every season is monumental. Our visitors are certainly welcome, and we work to promote the family image. However, Memorial Weekend has typically been a young "party" crowd. We don't want to generalize, but it only takes a few bad apples, who seem to have no sense of responsibility or consideration for others, to ruin the image of our young visitors.

We do have ordinances to protect the public, such as the noise ordinance, prohibition of public drinking and specific beach rules. Some communities have even passed ordinances against loud radios, as is the case in New York City, where earphones are required on radios in public parks and beaches. We are looking into this as a possible solution to some of the problems we are having with these loud radios.

Many people do not realize how hard Ocean City works to prepare for this great influx of people. Every city department hires and trains additional staff before the season is upon us. Our public works department hires an additional 38 people, sanitation adds 32 and transportation takes on 145 additional staff members. They include 91 bus drivers and 24 train drivers. The police department requires 152 summer people; 115 of them are police officers, and 22 are public safety officers. We have 41 people on our emergency medical services staff -- 11 of whom are hired for the summer -- to man the ambulances and handle all types of emergencies. Our beach patrol consist of 130 lifeguards to cover our 10 miles of guarded beach. Even our recreation and parks department hires 25 staff members for the summer. As you can see, we do prepare and plan the best we can.

In any given week, our weekend visitors leave behind approximately 3,000 tons of trash, which is removed by our sanitation department and cleaned from our beach and streets by our public works personnel. We are not complaining! On the contrary, our town relies on tourists to thrive, but we feel that those people who are unhappy or had an unfortunate experience in Ocean City should be aware of what we are faced with each and every season. We live here too. It is a shame that the offenders in these incidents can't appreciate or understand the effort that goes into making their stay comfortable and enjoyable.

I can only apologize to those upstanding and dutiful visitors, both young and old, who come to enjoy the beach but witness problems. We are dedicated to maintaining Ocean City as a successful family resort, and we will continue to work to rectify any problems. I hope we can all work together to keep it a healthy and happy place to live and vacation.