Tourism officials hope Wildwood icons live on with public murals

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Peter Bieling outlines part of the Wildwood icon wall mural in chalk Monday, May 19. Peter Bieling outlines part of the Wildwood icon wall mural in chalk Monday, May 19. WILDWOOD – At the beach on Robert’s Avenue Monday, artist Peter Bieling was outlining in chalk where the giant sweater sleeves should hang off the shoulders of a Wildwood icon, painted on the side of the Monster Truck building.

The huge piece of art is the first in a possible series of “Wildwood Icon” wall murals local tourism officials hope to have painted on the boardwalk this year, and will be unveiled Friday at noon.

“It’s getting there,” Bieling said of the first project. “I’ve been having trouble with the sweater tied around his neck. Does anybody wear a sweater like that anymore?”

Not since the days of Doo Wop, when this particular icon made a Wildwood anthem famous. Tourism officials with the Greater Wildwoods Tourism Improvement and Development Authority have asked the media to keep the subject of the mural a secret until the unveiling Friday at noon, but those who can’t wait that long can travel up to Roberts Avenue and the Boardwalk to get a sneak peak.

Beiling, a Burlington County artist, has been working in the Wildwoods for the past 25 years. He was one of the artists in residence at Morey’s Piers artBOX, and painted the panels of the Wave Swinger, which was replaced over this last winter.

“These icons will be an expression of the Wildwoods,” he said.

John Siciliano, executive director of GWTIDA, said that the authority is looking to add artwork to large, blank areas of the Wildwoods Boardwalk, such as on the sides of large buildings.

He pointed to Broad Street in Philadelphia, where art students created murals of musical and political icons of the city, and the walk of fame on Pacific Avenue, as inspiration.

“We started to think about how cool of an idea that was and to think about that from a standpoint of the Wildwoods,” he said.

About a year and a half ago, GWTIDA reached out on Facebook to Wildwood fans and asked what their favorite thing about the Wildwoods is – be it a person, place or a thing. Those responses helped shape the authority’s new “Can’t Stop This Feeling” advertising campaign for the Wildwoods, and the ideas for the icon walls.

People answered with things that were expected, like the beach and boardwalk, but other answers were about Wildwood’s history, as well as attractions and establishments that no longer exist, like Zaberer’s Restaurant or the Flyer rollercoaster that sat on Hunt’s Pier.

“A lot people performed in Wildwood in the heyday and it’s cool to keep the musical history alive, but it’s also pretty awesome to keep some of the families’ memories alive,” Siciliano said.

The giant mural will be unveiled noon Friday, May 23. Here, Peter Bieling uses an elevated work platform to paint the mural. The giant mural will be unveiled noon Friday, May 23. Here, Peter Bieling uses an elevated work platform to paint the mural. GWTIDA chose this particular location for its first mural because the property is owned by the City of Wildwood, and the authority leases it. Siciliano said once this mural is complete, GWTIDA will reach out to the owners of some other potential sites for additional showcases of Wildwood icons.

“We have no second selection yet or second location,” he said. “Let’s get this first one done, get positive feedback from it and move forward.”

The unveiling of the first icon mural will be held in conjunction with the Unlocking of the Ocean Ceremony and the International Kite Festival noon Friday, May 23, on the beach at Roberts Avenue.

Email Christie Rotondo at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or comment on this story at thewildwoodleader.com. 


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