When you walk along the boardwalk in Ocean City, MD you are guaranteed to see t-shirts and souvenirs of everything beachy.
You are also guaranteed to smell cotton candy,popcorn,roasted nuts, and sugary sweets.
And you just might hear a violin.
Not something you hear everyday.
As we walked along the wooden planks of the seaside town my ears were abuzz.
Is that a violin?
We got closer and could see an older man playing.
A Klezmer tune at first then a popular 90s song then "Somewhere over the Rainbow."
There is a bucket for tip if you like what you hear.
Street performers are allowed here.
We walked back around and I placed money in his bucket.
I thought about how the music changed the mood..enlightened it.
He had a small audience and looked more like a grandfather playing lovingly for his kin.
When home I was curious and looked him up.
There is a story.
His name is Bill.
He has been playing his violin on the Ocean City boardwalk for years.
In 2012 the police enforced a noise ordinance.
Bill and other performers were told to move along.
No device should be heard for at least 30 feet they said.
So he didn’t get to perform for months.
Then the ACLU got involved and with the help of a pro bono lawyer sued the township.
First Amendment and Freedom of Speech.
There was a ruling and a settlement for loss of wages.
Best thing was he got to play his violin back on the streets of the Ocean City boardwalk.
And I got to hear him play this summer.
Sometimes the system works.
It is music to my ears.