OCEAN CITY — Long-time Ocean City Parks Division Superintendent Calvin Ginnavan, who affectionately earned the title “Mr. Ocean City Parks” during his career, was feted this week with a special retirement ceremony at City Hall.
For 37 years, Ginnavan led the Parks Division of the Recreation and Parks Department, shepherding Ocean City through decades of significant change from a time when the resort had a couple of ballfields and a handful of public recreation areas to today, when there is a vast network of municipal parks and public spaces, including the centerpiece, Northside Park. Ginnavan was also a pioneer in the development of the wildly popular Winterfest of Lights, which will celebrate its 25th year next winter.
Whether he was on the business end of a shovel or rake at one of the town’s fledging network of public parks, or in the board room working out the details for major projects such as Northside Park or Eagle’s Landing, for example, Ginnavan was right in the middle of the development of Ocean City for the last three decades.
On Tuesday, he was honored with a proclamation and a key to the city from the Mayor and Council in front of friends, family, colleagues and co-workers.
Mayor Rick Meehan said while Ginnavan has been at the helm of the Recreation and Parks Department’s Parks’ Division, the town has gone through five mayors, five city managers and four different department directors.
“It’s certainly been a long career,” he said. “Look how far we’ve come since the 1980s and Cal has been a big part of that. Whenever we were trying to develop something, we always said ‘let’s ask Calvin.’ He’ll know how to get it done. We’ve know each other a long time.”
Ocean City Recreation and Parks Director Susan Petito said Ginnavan’s retirement was met with mixed emotions.
“It’s a bittersweet moment,” she said. “He’s been the leader of our parks division for 37 years. He is Mr. Ocean City Parks. He’s a pretty amazing guy and there is simply no way to go through all of his accomplishments. Cal has been a leader, not only in our department but throughout town. To say he will be missed is an understatement.”
Petito said the Recreation and Parks Department has grown by leaps and bounds during the three decades-plus Ginnavan has been involved. She said he installed playgrounds, tennis courts and ball fields and was responsible for planting enough trees to earn Ocean City a Tree City USA designation, no small feat on a windswept, sandy barrier island.
“When he started, the department had seven employees including three responsible for taking care of the athletic fields,” she said. “He helped develop Northside Park, he was an integral part of the inaugural Winterfest of Lights. He even drove a tractor out at Eagle’s Landing when the golf course was being developed. The list goes on and on. He really cares and the town has been fortunate to have him.”
For his part, Ginnavan said he cherished his time in Ocean City and his role as part of a larger team in its growth over the years. While he plans to spend his retirement with his family and his wife, Carol, he will continue to be a familiar face in the resort.
“It has been a pleasure working for the Town of Ocean City,” he said. “The people whom I have worked with, from the Mayor and Council, department heads, city managers and our employees, have made my career the most enjoyable. I will miss coming to work every day because I have been blessed with the greatest of employees in the Parks Division. Thank you all for allowing me to be a part of the town of Ocean City for as long as I have. I will certainly miss you all.”