By Donald WittkowskiOcean City had a gigantic clearance sale Saturday.Everywhere you looked, there were 25 percent off, 50 percent off and even 75 percent off signs dotting the storefronts along the Asbury Avenue central business district.The price-slashing mania was part of the city’s Fall Block Party celebration, an annual shopping and entertainment extravaganza that sees Asbury Avenue transformed into a sprawling outdoor pedestrian mall for the day.With Asbury Avenue closed to motor vehicle traffic between Fifth and 14th streets, thousands of shoppers casually strolled along the thoroughfare to hunt for the best bargains. About 400 vendors sold food, crafts and other goods from an array of tents lining the street.City spokesman Doug Bergen said the Fall Block Party, one of the biggest events of the year, attracts about 75,000 people and provides a boost for the local economy heading into the shoulder season.“In October, having that number of visitors in town is important for the local economy,” Bergen said.Shoppers Pam and Ken Grabell, a married couple from Philadelphia, carried bags filled with bargains they had bought, including a throw rug that cost just $5.“We have a rug, some starfish that we got for decorations, a bracelet and some earrings,” Pam Grabell said as she peered into the bags.Ken and Pam Grabell, of Philadelphia, bought some decorations for their vacation home in Somers Point.The Grabells have a vacation home in Somers Point, so they capitalized on the discounts to pick up some household items. Pam Grabell noted that some stores were cutting prices even deeper for cash purchases.“I love it,” she exclaimed.Gloomy gray skies and occasional rain didn’t dampen the turnout. Throngs of shoppers surged along Asbury Avenue and navigated through crowded sidewalks.However, the inclement weather caused the cancellation of the Block Party’s fireworks display at 9 p.m. The fireworks were supposed to be launched from a barge out on the ocean in front of the Music Pier, but rough waves scrubbed the event.Shoppers said they didn’t mind the rain. If they weren’t carrying umbrellas, they ducked under store awnings and the vendors’ tents for protection from the drizzle.“It’s only water,” Pam Grabell said, laughing.Making Waves, a clothing and accessories boutique, enticed shoppers with a big sales sign in the front window.Store managers and vendors reported doing brisk business. Halloween-themed novelties were among the hot sellers.“It’s great. The rain doesn’t seem to be stopping anyone from buying,” said Ashley Rauenzahn, a saleswoman at the Air Circus Kite Shop tent.Stacey Heaton, of Glassboro, had come to the Block Party to buy a Halloween wreath. She found one for $24. Heaton took cover underneath an umbrella, but said the rain didn’t bother her.“We packed some umbrellas, so we’re good to go,” she said of her family.Making Waves, a clothing and accessories boutique, sold items from three outdoor tents as well as inside the store. Shoppers were enticed by a big sign in the store window that advertised a sale of between 20 percent to 50 percent off.“They’re just so excited with the deals that they’re willing to buy more and more,” said Danielle St. Clair, the manager of Making Waves.But the Block Party was more than just shopping. Live music kept the crowds entertained and a variety of food vendors made sure no one went hungry.Carlo Calle, left, and Brandan Dierolf, of the Ocean City Exchange Club, cooked up some hotdogs and hamburgers on a grill.The Ocean City Exchange Club, which sponsors community events and programs, cooked hamburgers and hotdogs from a grill at the corner of Ninth Street and Asbury Avenue in the heart of downtown.John Lugo, the Exchange Club’s Block Party chairman, said the organization had 500 hotdogs and 300 hamburgers to sell.The Fall Block Party is a centerpiece of Ocean City’s Indian Summer Weekend celebration Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The festivities continue Sunday and Monday with seafood vendors on the Boardwalk in front of the Music Pier. In addition, local merchants will have table sales on the Boardwalk and along Asbury Avenue between Sixth and 14th streets.