Martin Z. Mollusk Day
on March 13th (1975)
the first Thursday in May (1976 to 2015)
Saturday of the first full week in May (since 2016)
Mark Soifer in 1975
Each May, Martin Z. Mollusk Day is held in Ocean City, New Jersey, a family-oriented beach resort city located about 10 miles south of Atlantic City. First held in 1975, the day took place on the first Thursday in May from 1976 through 2015, and has since been held on the Saturday of the first full week in May. The day was thought up by Mark Soifer—who was the public relations director of Ocean City at the time—in part as a way to get media attention for the city, as they didn't have a large budget to do so.
Martin Z. Mollusk is actually a hermit crab, not a mollusk, and he plays a role similar to that which Punxsutawney Phil does for Groundhog Day. On Martin Z. Mollusk Day, observers watch to see if Martin sees his shadow. If he does, it means that summer will come a week early—that is good for business, and it is what people in the city are hoping for. As of 2012, Martin had only not seen his whole shadow once—in 1985. That year, he saw half of his shadow, and summer arrived three-and-a-half days early instead of a full week.
The event is held at the 9th Street Beach, which is near Music Pier, Boardwalk, and Moorlyn Terrace. As the years have gone on, the event has become larger. The Ocean City High School band plays Pomp and Circumstance as Martin Z. Mollusk is escorted to the beach. Martin Z. Mollusk is costumed, and Dr. Ernest Frankenstein and nurses check his blood pressure to make sure he is fit to make the creep to look for his shadow. Trash Buster, an environmental character, inspects the beach to make sure the area is clean enough for Martin. "The World's Only Wind Chime Band" is there, and they play "Brother Can you Spare a Chime." The Ocean City Fish also participates, as does Suzanne Muldowney dressed as Shelley the Mermaid. Big Mama Llama, a llama from Bready Farms in nearby Tuckahoe, is on the beach as well. If she shakes or nods her head it indicates that Martin saw his shadow. Spectators are given a shell that represents a hermit crab as a souvenir. They also sing Martin's theme song, which sounds similar to "Some Enchanted Morning."
How to Observe Martin Z. Mollusk Day
Celebrate the day by attending the Martin Z. Mollusk Day event at the 9th Street Beach! If you can't make it to New Jersey, you could watch some video clips from past events. You could also get yourself a hermit crab. Take them out to a beach and see if they see their shadow!