Like many great ideas, it was cooked up around the kitchen table.
Mary Ann Bolen was sitting in her Ocean City home with her family, discussing The Key West Bucket List, a book by David Sloan.
"When I casually mentioned, “I could write a book like this,' they handed me a pen and paper," Bolen writes in the foreword to her new, shore-themed Bucket List.
The result of her family's encouragement is the self-published The Ocean City Bucket List: 100 Ways to Have a Real Ocean City Experience, available at (756 Asbury Avenue) among other stores in Ocean City, and through Amazon.com.
The idea of a "bucket list" (things you must do before you "kick the bucket") was first popularized by the 2007 film of the same name, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.
Although the quests Nicholson and Freeman undertake are global, each of the experiences listed in Bolen's book is unique to Ocean City. The book mixes the nostalgic ("grab the brass ring on the carousel and win a free ride"), the obscure ("find the doll houses on Wovern Place"), the spiritual ("walk on the beach in the early morning and be the first to leave footprints in the sand") and the gastronomic ("try to finish a large Voltaco's cheese steak by yourself").
Together, the 100 experiences listed in Bolen's book offer a broad look at what makes Ocean City so special to the hundreds of thousands who visit the island every year. It also offers a fun challenge to see how many you might accomplish, as well as related quotes and facts about Ocean City.
Bolen, 64, is a retired teacher whose career included jobs at St. Augustine in Ocean City and Cape Trinity Catholic in North Wildwood. She has lived full-time in a 105-year-old home on Park Place for 15 years, and she summered there for another 10 years.
Her parents first bought an Ocean City summer home in the 1960s, and she worked at Stainton's, among other seasonal jobs.
Bolen was raised in northern New Jersey and has moved frequently throughout her life, but Ocean City has always been a constant.
"Our home is the retreat," Bolen said. "Ocean City became our meeting place."
And the retreat within the retreat is the front porch—a place for "family time," relaxation, and for brainstorming additions to the "bucket list."
"I'm already going to start Vol. 2," Bolen said.