When Ocean City needed somebody to run its traditional Baby Parade, Sue Canale volunteered.
And when the city needed a chairman for the Night in Venice boat parade, she volunteered for that, too.
Canale was the chief organizer of both parades for years, and she was also a key volunteer on several more popular local events, from the Easter Parade to the Doo Dah Parade and on and on.
So Ocean City lost one of its most loyal friends when Canale died last month at 65, said Mark Soifer, the city’s publicist and chief cheerleader since 1971.
“I don’t know how she did it all,” he said.
Soifer said the city has been lucky to have plenty of people willing to give their time to its signature events. But Canale, who also ran her own real estate business, is the only person in his memory to run two major events at the same time.
Night in Venice is particularly demanding, and time-consuming.
“She was so organized,” said Canale’s friend, Ginny Mulford. “Captains, routes, boats — who is gassing up when, and when they all meet. All that and more has to be synchronized. And she just got it done.”
Mulford, of Upper Township, met Canale in 1990 or so. Sue and her husband, Joe Canale Sr., had a daughter, Joanne, competing in — and winning — the Miss Ocean City Pageant. Sue was an interested spectator, but wouldn’t get involved with the pageant while her daughter was in it.
Right after that, though, Sue started volunteering for almost everything, said Soifer, adding that one of her greatest talents as a volunteer was getting other people to volunteer with her.
Shawna Mulford, Ginny’s daughter, saw Sue’s recruiting talents in action when Shawna was just 12. Sue needed somebody to wear a Mickey Mouse costume at a kids’ event, and even though Shawna was not at all interested, Sue talked her into it.
“She said, ‘Do this for me today, and I promise I will pay you back tenfold,’” said Shawna — who added that Sue did much more than that.
“She became like my second mom,” the now 33-year-old said.
Sue also recruited her own family to volunteer for Ocean City. She hosted a cocktail party every year to welcome the celebrity comedians who star in the Doo Dah Parade, such as Carol Channing and Soupy Sales. She would invite 75 to 100 parade volunteers and officials to the family’s home and throw a great party — and the family paid for the whole thing, Joe Canale Jr. said.
“She probably put in a couple thousand hours a year,” said her son, who also knows how good a recruiter his mom was for Ocean City volunteers: When Sue finally gave up being chairman of Night in Venice, she got Joe Jr. and his wife, Daria, to take over the job.
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