USA Today held their 10 Best Readers’ Choice 2023 contest to determine the country’s finest coastal small towns, and Marblehead made it to third place. Stuart, Florida came in second while Sandusky, Ohio took first place.
With 20 small coastal towns nominated and chosen by a panel of experts, only 10 made it to the final where readers had the chance to vote once per day.
For local comedian Bruce Whear, the results are based on syllables.
“Sandusky and Marblehead are both three-syllable words and Stuart is only two, that’s why it is first,” said Whear.
Whear has practiced theater for more than 50 years, working as an improv comedian for the Accidentally on Purpose troupe and an improv teacher at Marblehead Little Theater.
Whear said that his opinion of Marblehead’s naming as the third-best small coastal town is massively biased, and that he has only good things to say about the town.
Growing up in Marblehead, Whear recalled Marblehead as the best place to be raised, calling it a paradise.
“Most of my life I called it Utopia because I just think that growing up there in the ’60s and ’70s and ’80s was utopic, it was just the balls, it was the nuts, bee’s knees, the cat’s pajamas, it was just a great place to be raised,” said Whear.
At one point Marblehead was internationally renowned as the yachting capital of the world, and Whear said it was the town’s claim to fame for many years.
According to Whear, Maddie’s Sail Loft on State Street in Marblehead is the Number One sailor’s bar in the world and has held that title for many years.
“Growing up with the drinking age at 18, it was pretty fun to be at Maddie’s,” he added.
Marblehead Little Theater, a little black box theater in downtown Marblehead, is a gem and one of the oldest community theater groups in New England. It is one of the few that continue to produce shows every year, with many students moving on to do Broadway shows.
A highlight of the Theater was when Adam Sandler rented the theater for one of the two movies he shot in town, renting a house in Marblehead Neck.
But for Whear, Marblehead is “a peninsula that thinks that it’s an island” like Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.
“It is a peninsula and very often you will have ‘Headers that never leave the town,” Whear said. “One of the crippling things about the town is that it has no gas station, so they have to leave.”
“Most ‘Headers go to Salem or Swampscott for gas,” he added.
Marblehead borders both Salem and Swampscott. Mableheaders can enter either community, but the Marblehead Neck is reached through a causeway that at one point in time was only accessible at low tide.