Charlotte Warner Daily, 82, ran Christmas parade in W. Cape May

Posted: May 15, 2014

IT WAS an unusual funeral procession.

A coffin bearing the earthly remains of Charlotte Warner Daily was taken through the streets of West Cape May, N.J., last Wednesday on a float festooned with symbols of the things that made her life worthwhile.

There were two American flags symbolizing her patriotism, a cross for her religion, a 4-H sign representing the youth organization she sponsored and a carpet of sod reminiscent of her passion for gardening.

There was also a Christmas tree as a symbol of the parade she organized and ran at Christmastime in West Cape May every year for 49 years.

The "Parade Lady," as she was known in her hometown, had requested that her coffin be placed on a float as part of a parade. Fire trucks and the cars of her many mourners escorted the float to Cold Spring Cemetery in Lower Township after services at First Assembly Church of God in Cape May.

The procession passed Borough Hall, where Charlotte had worked as a municipal clerk for more than 20 years.

Her body was dressed in a Mummers costume because many Mummers string bands had been recruited to march in her Christmas parade.

Charlotte Daily died April 30 of complications from a stroke. She was 82.

"My mother would be ecstatic" about the funeral parade, her daughter, Victoria Kelly-Kuhn, told the Press of Atlantic City. "She loved everything gregarious, colorful and flamboyant."

The Christmas parade tradition began back in 1964 when Charlotte's 4-H Club won a $100 prize for a float entered in the holiday parade in Sea Isle City.

Charlotte planned to enter the float in a Christmas parade in Cape May, but it was rained out. She then approached the mayor of West Cape May, where she lived, for permission to stage the parade there.

The first parade was pretty skimpy: a high school band and a fire truck and three floats. It took maybe 10 minutes to pass the reviewing stand.

But over the years, the parade grew. In recent years, there were as many as seven string bands and 10 high school bands, along with the usual array of floats and fire trucks. It would take more than two hours to pass the stand.

"Mom would start in early September, putting cans in stores and going door-to-door for donations," said another daughter, Becky Daily Horton.

"I remember girls coming over and mom sewing with them. The phone was always ringing. People were coming and going. Growing up with the parade was a very exciting time."

Charlotte Daily was a 1949 graduate of Cape May High School. She was borough clerk in West Cape May from 1970 until she retired in 1991.

She was married to Homer G. Daily, who died in 1974. Besides her daughters, she is survived by another daughter, Jeanette Urquhart; two sons, William Daily and Homer Daily Jr.; 21 grandchildren; 21 great-grandchildren; and three great-great-grandchildren.

Services: Were Wednesday.

Donations in her name may be made to the Charlotte Daily Fund, Sturdy Savings Bank, 701 Washington St., Cape May, N.J., 08204.

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