OCEAN CITY — Long-time Ocean City Recreation and Parks fixture Albin “Hondo” Handy, called the heart and soul of the department for nearly 40 years, was feted with an emotional ceremony at City Hall on Tuesday.
Hired in January 1980, Handy came to Ocean City from the Harford County Recreation and Parks Department. He started as a public grounds specialist, but it soon became clear Handy’s strong suit was interacting with kids, parents and coaches, and he quickly moved to recreation supervisor and recreation manager.
For the next couple of decades, Handy was seen in the gyms and fields at Northside Park or running youth programs on the beach and Boardwalk and everywhere else people young and old gather to recreate and play sports in Ocean City. A standout athlete in his own right, Handy was a key player on Stephen Decatur High School’s 1970 state championship team. Mayor Rick Meehan on Tuesday outlined Handy’s long journey through the Ocean City recreation department.
“Hondo played basketball in this very building before it was City Hall,” he said. “I played softball with Hondo and over the years my kids and now my grandkids have gone through his programs. He has been the heart and soul of the recreation and parks department for almost 40 years.”
Meehan said Handy’s reach went far beyond the boundaries and limitations of the town of Ocean City.
“Everybody in Worcester County knows Hondo,” he said. “He has had a positive influence on everybody he has ever come in contact with. We’re happy for him, but we won’t ever be able to replace him.”
Along with his professional responsibilities, Hondo has had active roles with the Ocean City Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Committee’s Play it Safe program and the National Alliance for Youth Sports. He has received numerous Governor’s Citation Awards and has been named Ocean City Citizen of the Year twice, as well as Best Youth Organization Director. To add to his accomplishments, in 2019 the town of Ocean City’s sportsmanship program was renamed the “Alvin Hondo Handy Sportsmanship Counts Program” in dedication of his passion for sportsmanship.
Ocean City Recreation and Parks Director Susan Petito said he prepared a long script for her comments outlining Handy’s accomplishments over the years for the department and beyond, but went off the script in the interest of brevity during Tuesday’s retirement ceremony.
“How do you encapsulate an incredible 39-year career?” she said. “He has loved this community, but it’s obvious this community loves him. Whether it was preparing ballfields or running programs, whatever needed to done, Hondo was there.”
Petito said Handy’s influence reached countless individuals during his nearly 40-year career with the department.
“He has touched the lives of thousands during his dedicated work with the department,” she said. “He has preached the virtues of teamwork and sportsmanship and he has won many, many awards and recognitions over the years. He radiates enthusiasm to all who come in contact with him and he has mentored and nurtured so many relationships.”
Petito said Handy will not be easily replaced and borrowed from the department’s own slogan to illustrate her point.
“We will miss him as the face of the Ocean City Recreation and Parks Department and we expect him to continue to help others discover an ‘ocean of fun’ in whatever he does in his life,” she said.