Mike Moeller sets up on Ocean City‘s boardwalk each summer with an umbrella and an easel to sketch portraits.
He sells his drawings and receives tips from passersby. Sometimes, he draws a small crowd, and offers impromptu art lessons to youngsters interested in his techniques.
The freelance artist, who lives in Philadelphia in the off-season, said the work allows him to rent a place at the beach resort town for the summer. But it’s a lifestyle he and other boardwalk performers say is threatened by the latest guidelines imposed by Ocean City officials that they feel violate their free speech rights.
“All the joy is gone from it. It’s just so frustrating,” said Moeller, 38, who is one of 11 plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed against Ocean City in federal court over the guidelines adopted by the seven-member city council in 2015.