Steel Pier Wheel

Anthony Catanoso, co-partner of the Wheel at Steel Pier, looks out over the Atlantic City shoreline during the first rides on the Wheel. The Wheel at Steel Pier officially opened to the public, Tuesday Dec. 26, 2017, offering rides to anyone adventurous enough to circle to the top of the 227ft. tall wheel. The Wheel is the third largest in the United States, with gondolas able to carry 240 passengers on a 5 revolution trip with spectacular views of the Atlantic City and the coast. (Dale Gerhard / Press of Atlantic City)

ATLANTIC CITY — Steel Pier owner Anthony Catanoso was awarded the first annual Sen. Jim Whelan Leadership honor Wednesday during the New Jersey Conference on Tourism, according to a news release from the New Jersey Tourism Industry Association.

Catanoso, the principal owner and president of Steel Pier Associates LLC, was nominated for his efforts and investment in Atlantic City as a destination. His family is in its 28th season of operating the pier.

“We as a family and an organization are extremely honored and proud to receive the Jim Whelan Award,” Catanoso said in a statement. “Jim was a driving force in tourism in our region for years, offering excellent leadership and counsel. He will always hold a special place in our hearts. And we are most grateful to his wife, Kathy, for being on hand to celebrate with us.”

The event brought together state tourism and hospitality professionals at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City.

The board of the NJTIA created a new tourism leadership award in Whelan’s memory to honor those who work outside the traditional travel and tourism field but whose efforts have lifted obstructions or provided assistance that allows tourism to thrive in the state. The award memorializes the tourism efforts of Whelan, who served in the state Senate representing Atlantic County from 2008 until his death in 2017.

Catanoso was selected from essay nominations submitted by members of the NJTIA.

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