Even when things were at their worst for Ed Heck, he found a way to make it all better by dressing up and entertaining strangers, while selling a little pizza along the way. The 54-year-old Marietta resident is a sign spinner for the Little Caesar’s Pizza shop at the corner of Austell Road and County Services Parkway.
But Heck is no run-of-the-mill sign spinner. He has taken the job to a whole new level by singing, dancing and dressing up as a number of characters, including The Ladybug Man and Pizza Angel.
“I’m a big guy, standing almost 6-feet, 4-inches tall and weighing around 230 pounds, and I didn’t want anybody to be frightened of me,” he said of the period right after he started the job.
Using pieces of donated costumes or clothes, knick-knacks and even recycled materials like two liter jugs or emergency cones that fall off the back of trucks, Heck creates elaborate costumes.
“I come from a showman’s background,” he said. “My father was in the novelty business in Pennsylvania; we had balloons, novelties and games.”
They would participate in local carnivals, selling a variety of things to attendees.
Heck left that part of his life behind when he moved to Marietta in 1982. But when he got his pizza peddling job in 2010, he was able to jump right back into something he never fully let go of at heart.
“When I walked out to the street with the sign for the first time and danced around a little bit and sang a little song, the children’s eyes just lit up,” Heck said. “This is my calling. I really found my niche with Little Caesar’s.”
With the bad comes good
Heck’s life hasn’t always been fun and games, though.
Prior to getting the job with Little Caesar’s three years ago, he was struggling with the death of his parents and had gone through a rough divorce. He’d lost his job as a kitchen manager at a local restaurant.
“I was also recovering from a problem with alcohol,” he said.
On a hungry belly, Heck heard that Little Caesar’s was giving away a free pizza to anyone who auditioned for the sign-spinner position — so he took a chance.
“I went by and I prayed on it, let the people see Jesus working through me, and the owner just happened to be there and he said, ‘Give the people a show!’” Heck recalls. “Working here has really been a blessing and it has gladdened my heart after going through all that depressing stuff.”
His love, passion and thrill with the job hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Brad Pesselato, who supervises the store location, said he’s been able to notice a difference in sales when Heck is outside doing his thing. They tend to pick up.
“If you stand in the parking lot, people will blow their horns constantly at him,” he said. “People stop all the time to get pictures of him and with him.”
He’s been working with Heck for the last three years.
“I would say he’s the most entertaining sign spinner and the best one around,” Pesselato said. “By comparison to others, it’s a completely different ballgame. I consider him an entertainer rather than a sign spinner.”