Marblehead Chamber of Commerce readies to bestow awards, celebrate service

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Marblehead Chamber of Commerce will bestow upon Brian Wheeler the Rey Moulton Person of the Year Award before its membership on Tuesday.

“I don’t think of myself as a big deal, but I know the award is a big deal,” said Wheeler. “I’ll be honest I don’t feel a minute different, but I am humbled by it.”

Wheeler has been the longtime chairperson of the performing arts portion of the Marblehead Festival of Arts, and that job includes oversight of as well as getting the ducks in a row for the Crocker Park Concert Series. The undertaking takes a legion of volunteers to pull off and months of planning.

The Crocker Park Concert Series returned in July after a two-year hiatus. In an interview with the Mabrlehad News, Wheeler said the Performing Arts Committee takes very seriously its duties to assemble an eclectic lineup and create an atmosphere where the public and neighbors can unite “under the umbrella of music.”

Brian Wheeler, the Chamber of Commerce person of the year, when he received the Frank Regan Award in 2018. [COURTESY PHOTO]

“Pulling off the show that Brian does over the Fourth of July holiday is remarkable,” wrote one of Wheeler’s nominators for person of the year. “He sources the talent, manages egos, sources the production equipment, sources volunteers, coordinates everything and does it with a smile – making it all look easy.”

Wheeler grew up in Marblehead, his family having moved here when he was seven years old.

“I was the luckiest kid, growing up on the water on the Salem Harbor-side,” said Wheeler while also recognizing that he isn’t “a true Header.” “My parents gave me a tremendous gift by moving to Marblehead.”

He worked behind the Warwick Theater’s candy counter.

“I got to see the “Posiden Adventures” about 25 times – which was great,” he said. “I worked at Children’s Island.” He also ran a couple of restaurants in town.

Wheeler studied at the Berklee College of Music.

“I was fortunate to go to Berklee,” said Wheeler, a member of the Guy Ford Band. “I’ve been playing guitar professionally for years. I sing, and am a songwriter.”

He was actually playing the instrument on a Crocker Park bench in the mid-1970s when he got his first introduction to the concert series.

“I was playing guitar with my partner David North. That fall I dated a girl who was friends with the kids doing sound and lights at Crocker Park. I became friends with those guys,” Wheeler said, adding he thought they were so cool. “I started to help – and now 45 years, I’m still there.”

And for 25 years, he has led the Marblehead Festival of the Arts’ Performing Arts Committee.

“Brian’s leadership of the Performing Arts group is nothing short of amazing,” wrote another nominator. “Brian has started to from the bottom, some 45 years ago, and brings countless volunteers together to take an empty park and build it into a full-seated production. ”

The nominator added, “This year it was an absolute home run with incredible talent and crowds.”

Crocker Park during the Marblehead Festival of the Arts Concert Series during the Fourth of July Weekend. [COURTESY PHOTO]

He helped institute the Crocker Park Concert Series internship program from which 300 students have graduated.

During his time with the concert series, Wheeler said Marblehead resident Robb Macomber – a former Marblehead Festival of Arts president – has been a real mentor.

“Without his vision, without his support,” said Wheeler, “I would have never had the opportunity to do what I do.”

The Person of the Year Award is the highest accolade given annually by the Marblehead Chamber of Commerce. The award’s recipient lights the town’s Christmas tree and serves as the Christmas Walk parade’s grand marshal.

“Does the award come with a sash?” Wheeler said with a laugh. “Should I practice my waving and pointing?”

Wheeler fell into a more serious tone. He said he believes the common thoroughline that runs through the individuals, organizations, or small businesses who’ve earned the local chamber awards exists.

“It’s really about being of service – service to the community, right?” he said “You fill a void. You look for places to assist and help, and you don’t have to be asked to do it. You do it because it’s the right thing to do.”

The Chamber invites the public to its annual meeting (Tickets can be bought here: https://bit.ly/3RlCz2c ) and celebrates not just Wheeler but also the entire slate of 2022 community-award recipients:

BUSINESS OF THE YEAR
Mud Puddle Toys

FRANK REGAN COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD
Melissa Stacey, Discover Marblehead

NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION OF THE YEAR
Dollars For Scholars

HARBOR AWARD
The Marblehead Disabilities Commission
and The Marblehead Harbors & Waters Board

SPECIAL RECOGNITION
Adam Moore, Academy Mortgage
Becky Curran Cutting, Marblehead town planner

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