2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 20162017 | 2018 | 2019

2012 IAAPA Service Awards Given to Marcelo Gutglas, Tom Sheehan, and Denise Beckson

 Three Dedicated Industry Leaders Receive Prestigious
IAAPA Service Award
Marcelo Gutglas, Tom Sheehan, and Denise Beckson

(November 15, 2012) - The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) presented awards for extraordinary service to Marcelo Gutglas of Playcenter in Sao Paulo, Brazil; Tom Sheehan of The Sheehan Firm in Cary, Illinois; and Denise Beckson of Morey’s Piers in Wildwood, New Jersey. The awards were presented during the GM and Owners’ Breakfast, Wednesday, Nov. 14, in Orlando, Florida, at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2012, the world’s largest annual conference and trade show for the global attractions industry.

Lifetime Service Award – Marcelo Gutglas, Playcenter; Sau Paulo, Brazil
The Lifetime Service Award recognizes a member, individual, or organization’s continual service to the attractions industry.

During his 43-year career in the attractions industry, Marcelo Gutglas was instrumental in the development of the South American market, founding the first theme park in Brazil, Playcenter,  as well as Hopi Hari and the Playland FECs. Gutglas opened his first attraction in 1969, an arcade incorporating 20 pinball machines, and since then his name has become synonymous with the South American amusement industry. He founded the Brazilian Association of Amusement Parks in 1989 and served as president of the Latin American Association of Amusement Parks from 1995 to 1997, where his steady hand helped bring the South American attraction industry back on track after a period of economic difficulty. In addition to his contributions in his region, Gutglas has been active in the worldwide IAAPA community, serving on the Board of Directors, Executive Committee, World Council, Strategic Planning Committee, and currently as a member of the Latin American Advisory Committee.  

Outstanding Service Award – Tom Sheehan, The Sheehan Firm; Cary, Illinois, United States
The Outstanding Service Award is presented to the member individual who fosters a spirit of goodwill, professionalism, and high levels of performance within the industry.  

Tom Sheehan’s unique set of skills has truly set him apart in his field. In his first role in the industry, he was behind the scenes working as a ride mechanic and technician for a major theme park. Today, he serves on the IAAPA Safety Committee and is a member and former officer of the ASTM International F-24 Committee on Amusement Rides and Devices. During his career, Tom has served as Executive Director and General Counsel for AIMS (Amusement Industry Manufacturers and Suppliers), is a founding director of IALDA (International Amusement & Leisure Defense Association), and has shared his technical expertise at nearly every attractions industry trade show and conference.  Sheehan is the only attorney in the United States who holds both Level 1 and Level 2 NAARSO (National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials) Amusement Ride Inspector’s Certificates.

In addition to his professional accomplishments, Sheehan has been a key contributor to IAAPA’s charity efforts, founding the Give Kids The World Motorcycle Ride in 2010. The annual ride took place for the third straight year earlier this week.

Meritorious Service – Denise Beckson, Morey’s Piers; Wildwood, New Jersey, United States
The Meritorious Service Award goes to the member individual or organization that has gone to great lengths to promote safe operations, global development, professional growth, and the commercial success of the industry.

Denise Beckson has made a name for herself protecting the interests of the U.S. attractions industry among lawmakers on Capitol Hill. She has worked tirelessly to promote the J1 Visa Program many U.S. IAAPA members depend on for seasonal employment. She has provided real-world feedback on U.S. State Department proposals, drafted comments on proposed rules, and came to Washington, D.C. on short notice to meet with State Department officials on the program and share the benefit it has on exchange students, Morey’s Piers, and the Wildwood community. In addition, Beckson has been active in IAAPA’s effort to address the unique challenges U.S. businesses will face under the Patient Protections and Affordable Care Act. She has played a vital role in contributing to the U.S. congressional testimony given by Will Morey, president of Morey’s Piers, on the effect of the law on employers. Beckson has also served as a member and chair of IAAPA’s Water Park Committee and currently serves on the IAAPA Government Relations and Education committees.

IAAPA is the premier trade association for the attractions industry worldwide. Founded in 1918, IAAPA is the largest international trade association for permanently situated amusement facilities and attractions, and is dedicated to the preservation and prosperity of the attractions industry. The association’s global headquarters is in Alexandria, Virginia, United States and it maintains regional offices in Brussels, Mexico City, and Hong Kong.


Editor’s Note: Images are available for download at www2.IAAPA.org/IAAPAAttractionsExpo.