Monday, September 7, 2015

Chubby Checker honored with Wildwood's third Icon mural wall

This morning, the City of Wildwood celebrated its third Music Icon Mural, featuring the legendary Chubby Checker.

The 12-by-40 foot painting, created by artist Susan Daly, was unveiled to an enthusiastic crowd of fans and local dignitaries at Pacific & Garfield Avenues.

It was just one block south, at the Rainbow Club (now the site of Cattle 'n Clover), that Checker debuted "The Twist" 55 summers ago. 

Little did the then-18-year-old recent high school grad realize he was about to set off a national dance craze. But that's exactly what happened after a subsequent performance of the dance/song on American Bandstand with Dick Clark.

Over half century and 200 million record sales later, the 73-year-old Checker still performs and returns frequently to the Wildwoods, where it all began.

He looked sharp in an all-black ensemble, gleamed as the mural was unveiled and then led the estimated 250 people on hand as "Let's twist again, like we did last summer" played.

Mayor Ernie Troiano issued a proclamation, officially making September 7 "Chubby Checker Day" in Wildwood.

The night before, Checker delighted a big crowd at Fox Park (Ocean & Burk Aves) as the headliner of Wildwood's Block Party & Music Festival; the annual event celebrates the end of the summer season with all-day entertainment and a number of family activities.

(Special thanks to John Lynch for the accompanying photos; check out more at

The Greater Wildwoods Tourism Improvement & Development Authority (GWTIDA) began the Icon Mural program last year as a way to beautify public spaces, pay tribute to local legends, and honor the great people and events of the island's history.

The first mural, honoring fellow South Philly native and Chubby Checker's friend Bobby Rydell, was unveiled at the kick-off of Memorial Day Weekend 2014. It is located on the Boardwalk at Youngs Avenue.

The second mural, depicting Bill Haley & His Comets, was introduced last October. It is at Pacific & Oaks Avenues, one block from the former location of the Hotel Hofbrau, where the band first performed "Rock Around the Clock" in 1954.

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