2020 “Dr. Bill Eckart” Young Professional Award Winner Gary Colello, Director, Bridgton Recreation

Gary Colello is being recognized by his professional peers with an award by the Maine Recreation and Parks Association. He has demonstrated outstanding leadership for the residents of Bridgton by developing, coordinating and implementing recreational opportunities for all ages.  Gary has recently served on the MRPA Fall Workshop and the MRPA annual conference planning committees.

This award is named for Dr. William Eckart, who retired from the University of Maine at Machias in 2011 after 31 years as Professor of Recreation Management. During his tenure, he built the program into one of the most respected programs in the country, and it was Maine’s only nationally accredited recreation degree program. Dr. Eckart was an active member of MRPA, serving as Treasurer on the Board of Directors, spearheading the professional certification program, and managing membership.

Here is what residents of Bridgton say about Gary:

“Gary has taken a leadership role bringing together many towns in for baseball, softball, soccer, basketball, lacrosse and other sports.  He also helps with town events such as the Christmas parade, 4 on the 4th road race & the town Halloween party. He also interacts with the local elementary, middle & high school. His skill dealing with children, coaches, parents, officials and other town’s representatives is amazing. He does this with a smile and an undeniable belief that the bottom line is that this is all done for the benefits of the children.”

“He has gone well above and beyond the typical duties of a small town rec director.”

“Gary is single-handedly responsible for growing our community health and wellness activities at a previously under-utilized old town hall, revitalizing an attached public winter ice rink and providing skates and helmets to those who are interested. I cannot think of a community event where I have not seen him in attendance. This winter he mobilized every town business to decorate their windows for the holiday season, as the Parks Department was unable to put up the customary decorations due to road construction. I do not think this was even his responsibility. He also doggedly organized the previously failing “Festival of Lights” parade in the beginning of December.”

“Since Gary has come to Bridgton, he has done a lot for our recreation community. He is constantly challenging the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality while also collaborating with more experienced recreation directors to bring our community the best programming possible.”