September 5, 2018
Class of 2018: Behind the scenes

40 Under Forty: The dragon inside Bancroft Tower

Photo | Erika Sidor
The 40 Under Forty winners who were members of Team Bancroft (from left) Matthew M. Copeland, Michael Alden, Courtney E. Pelley and David Gilchrist.

The four WBJ 40 Under Forty winners who took their photo at Worcester's Bancroft were nothing if not earnest.

In preparation for WBJ taking their group photos around 10 cultural destinations of Central Massachusetts, I encouraged all the photo teams to get excited and think of creative ways to bring liveliness to the proceedings. For Team Bancroft – Matthew M. Copeland, Courtney E. Pelley, Michael Alden and David Gilchrist – I suggested maybe thinking of trying to do a "Game of Thrones" theme, since the tower has a medieval feel and that is one of my favorite shows. To my shock and befuddlement, at least one member of Team Bancroft doesn't watch the show.

Photo | Erika Sidor
Bancroft Tower has multiple levels and passageways.

Of course, the novelty of the tower should have been more than enough without all the bells and whistles. Here is a stone tower on top of a hill in the middle of a Worcester neighborhood, one of the city's key landmarks. I was told being granted access inside the tower was a rare occurrence, although the Worcester Department of Public Works & Parks approved my application with relative ease (Thank you, Mily Pacheco!). Either way, walking through the tower's many levels and elaborate stonework was beyond amazing.

Photo | Erika
To get to the highest point of Bancroft Tower, you need to navigate a winding metal staircase.

Upon arriving at Bancroft Tower in the late morning of the July photo shoot, I could tell Copeland, Pelly, Alden and Gilchrist had not done a ton of advance planning together, if any. They were game for about everything with the photos, but the four of them lacked the cohesion of the photo teams who had brainstormed well beforehand. Yet, upon arrival, they fell into relative ease with each other, and they even brought props – lots of props.

The proceedings were led by Pelley, who hit up Party City for at least $50 worth of balloons, a chalkboard, crowns, tiaras, confetti and party poppers. Team Bancroft was right to eschew my "Game of Thrones" suggestion, as they appear in the photos as Central Massachusetts business leaders instead of cheap George R.R. Martin knockoffs. All of Pelley's props added the needed liveliness to the proceedings, so even though the photo we ended up using in the magazine didn't have any props in it, the atmosphere they created permeated the entire shoot.

Photo | Erika Sidor
Pelley bought an entire bag of props from Party City, saying all of them could be returned to the store if Team Bancroft didn't use them. They ended up using almost everything.

The one of Pelley's prop ideas that could have really worked out was the giant "4" and "0" balloons she brought. The gold coloring contrasted nicely to Bancroft Tower's stonework, and the balloons made it explicit was the photo was all about while adding a youthfulness to the shoot. Unfortunately, it was a windy day, and the "4" balloon popped, leaving us a scant few minutes to snap off a couple of balloon photos.

Photo | Erika Sidor
The "4" balloon popped a hole before the photo shoot even started.

But the prize for best prop brought to the shoot – really, all 10 of the 40 Under Forty photo shoots – goes to Alden. He was the last to arrive at the location, and I was halfway up the tower when he pulled up in his car. I saw him digging in his car and pop out with a large, bright red object. When I finally got down to greet him, I saw what it was: a Chinese dragon head, like what you would see in a parade. He told us exactly why he had such an object, but honestly, I've forgotten the reason. Frankly, I think imaging fantastically scenarios (He uses it to ward off evil spirits; he moonlights as a Chinese New Year parade director; he won it in a backroom card game) are far more fun than the actual answer.

We used the dragon head in several photos, and it makes a cameo in the deep background of a few others. These photos, though, never made it into the magazine. It would have been too weird. Here are all these photos of the best and brightest business talents in the region, and then some random dragon head was thrown in.

Photo | Erika Sidor
Why do you think Michael Alden has a giant red dragon head? Leave your answer below in the comments.

The dragon was an amusing prop, and I've had a great time coming up with reasons for its being in Alden's possession (it comes alive at night and has the voice of Eddie Murphy, and the two of them team up to fight off a Mongolian invasion). In the end, though, it turned out having four professionally dressed Central Massachusetts up-and-comers against the backdrop of one of Worcester's most well-known landmarks was all we really needed to get a great photo.

Read about the entire 2018 Class of 40 Under Forty.

Michael Alden - Ascentria Care Alliance

Che Anderson - City of Worcester

Victor M. Archila - VMA Electric Inc.

Allison Beckler, DO - YOU, Inc.

Sam Bitar - Webster Five

Mark A. Borenstein - Seder & Chandler LLP

Kate D. Campanale - Massachusetts House of Representatives

Derek Canton - paerpay

Ryan Canuel - Petricore, Inc.

Jennifer Caron - Body Therapeutics

Danielle J. Clark - Clark Career Coaching

Heidi Cooper - Cooper's Hilltop Farm

Matthew M. Copeland, P.E. - Copeland Building Envelope Consulting

Pat Davis - The DAVIS Cos.

Efua T. Dufu, MSW, LCSW - Ellite Event Planning

Grace Elton - Tower Hill Botanic Garden

Ursula Furi-Perry, J.D. - Becker College

Jared E. Gentilucci - Nitsch Engineering

David Gilchrist, MD, MBA - UMass Memorial Health Care

Alvara Gjylapi - Santander Bank

Erica Grinkis - The GazBar Sports Grill

Meredith Harris - Marlborough Economic Development Corp.

Erin Jansky - Worcester Housing Authority

Ben Jones - Boston Scientific Corp

Alexis Kelleher - Crust Bakeshop; North Main Provisions

Bert LaValley - Sustainable Comfort, Inc.; deadhorse hill & simjang restaurants

Jennifer Leger - Fidelity Bank

Brian Lemerise - Quiet Logistics, Inc.

Tom Lubelczyk - The Worcester Jazz Collective

Laura Marotta - Creative Hub Worcester

Ryan Matson - Small Business Insurance Agency

Michael P. McDonough, CPA - McDonough, McDonough & Corsini, LLP

Madeline Mendoza - NewVue Communities

Jessica Morris - MCPHS University

Nathan Oriol - Oakdale Rehabilitation & Skilled Nursing Center (Oriol Health Care)

Nicholas Pelletier - Pelletier Properties at Keller Williams North Central

Courtney E. Pelley - Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center

Lilian Radke - Unic Pro Inc.

Blaine Schnare - Harrington HealthCare System

Bonnie J. Walker - Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Learn how the winners were picked on our judges' page.

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