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Ocean City prepping for the return of a pop-up car rally that has turned violent in years past

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Posted at 4:58 PM, Sep 21, 2021

OCEAN CITY, Md. — Ocean City is prepping for the return of an unauthorized pop-up car rally known as H2OI, that makes it's way to the resort town each year in late September.

Some participants could arrive in Ocean City as early as Tuesday, and stay through Sunday, September 26.

The Police Department has already declared the entire town a Special Event Zone with thousands expected to attend.

Initially signed into law in 2018, the special event zone was revised in 2020 and allows local police to lower speed limits and prohibit certain "exhibition" styles of driving, while handing out stiffer fines and penalties for violations.

Examples of "exhibition" driving include; Abrupt deceleration or acceleration, skidding, squealing, burning or smoking of the tires, swerving or swaying side to side while skidding, loud engines, gear grinding, backfiring, popping wheelies, and driving with people on the hood or roof of a car.

In the past, police have had their hands full maintaining order during the event.

At last year's rally, police issued over 3,500 traffic citations and towed more than 350 cars, not to mention 100 plus arrests.

One resulted in a Maryland State Police trooper being knocked unconscious.

After the rally turned violent in 2019, Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan vowed to prevent the rally from ever returning to Ocean City.

"They placed our town, as well as our citizens and visitors under siege and in danger which is unacceptable under any circumstances," Meehan wrote at the time on his Facebook page. "Our town government, citizens, property owners and businesses must join together as one voice to take whatever action is necessary to stop this group from returning."

But it's not that easy.

For starters, the Pop-up Rally does not have a designated event promoter for the town to communicate and collaborate with. Therefore no event permit even exists.

Then according to Ocean City's own official website, the town simply does not have authority to put a full stop to the event.

Despite that, the police department says they plan to be out in full force along with other supporting agencies.

They recommend local residents and visitors stay off the road during the event if possible.

For more on what a Special Event Zone entails, click here. Other information on the event can be found here.