Along with volunteering at town events, Wiley handles slogans at Rt. 50 entrance
By Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(April 19, 2018) Although some issues were reported with new parking systems in the Ocean City inlet lot, parking in downtown Berlin remains free and relatively painless.
A town sign near the corner of Route 50 and Main Street this week poked a little fun at the juxtaposition.
Berlin resident Mike Wiley has been in of charge of the sign for several years, dating back to when Michael Day was the town economic development director.
Wiley, 71, is a retired Anne Arundel County firefighter and prolific volunteer, assisting his wife, Helen Wiley, at the Church Mouse Thrift Shop and helping with downtown Berlin events such as the annual Bathtub Races and Spring and Fall Cruisers.
“I took over helping [Day] with the sign when it got real busy and it gradually evolved into doing it all the time,” Wiley said. “I really enjoy it – you’re out here alone and people don’t bug you!”
On Tuesday Wiley put up an advertisement for the Jazz and Blues Bash, May 5, on the eastbound side.
“That’s the side that tourists always see coming into town,” he said. “On the westbound side going out of town it’s just going to say we have over 50 shops and there’s free parking.”
The westbound sign currently reads:
OVER 50 SHOPS
That’s as opposed to “paying in other towns,” Wiley added.
He said the signs are changed as needed, which is rarely during the winter months and more frequently as event season heats up, May through October.
“With spring starting you change it almost weekly,” he said. “I keep the town’s little calendar and pencil things in as they come.”
Wiley said he first workshops ideas on his computer at home. He figured out whatever fits on one line using a 48-point Arial font will translate well onto the sign.
The postings cannot promote a specific business, but instead focus on “generic stuff about the town or public service announcements.”
“It’s all prepped before I come out,” he said. “I figure I’ve probably done about 100 signs over the years.
“I’ve had a couple of unique ones that have gotten a chuckle out of both the mayor and Sen. Jim Mathias – both of them comment all the time,” Wiley added.
For example, several times during the Maryland State Firemen’s Association Convention and Conference in Ocean City Wiley has posted, “Stop, drop and roll into America’s Coolest Small Town.”
During Jeep Week the sign has read, “4×4 into Berlin,” and when the Dew Tour was in Ocean City the side said, “Dew drop in.”
“That brought some people in, I think,” Wiley said.