Melvin Mello, Jr. -- known to most as "Mel” -- has lived in Half Moon Bay all his life.
He’s a professional truck driver with 35 years of experience, driving big rigs from Half Moon Bay to San Carlos to the East Bay and everywhere in between for garbage collecting companies such as Allied Waste Services.
Mello is 51 years old. One of six siblings, he attended Half Moon Bay public schools from Hatch Elementary and Cunha Intermediate to Half Moon Bay High.
But perhaps what Mello is most well known for is his community service, volunteering and dedicating many hours over the course of many years in his hometown.
“We have a very unique community here in Half Moon Bay and on the Coastside,” says Mello. “I've been blessed to spend time and work with key community members before the Coast changes and becomes like every other community.”
Recently, Mello was awarded the Bert Carli Volunteer of the Year Award from the Half Moon Bay Chamber of Commerce for being “an outstanding individual who has continually volunteered his time and energy countless times to the Chamber throughout the year,” says Chamber CEO Charise McHugh. “Mel has been huge in helping put on Farmer of the Year. And, anytime we need anything from I.D.E.S., he is our go-to guy.”
Mello is also very instrumental in organizing the , volunteering every year for the annual event, even serving as director for the past few years. His biggest challenge with the job, he says, is the coordination of waste disposal and recycling. Yet when asked if he would do it again, he answers a resounding, “Of course!”
His favorite event during the Pumpkin Festival is the annual Half Moon Bay , a tradition near and dear to his heart because his father, the late Melvin Mello, originally started it.
“Dad had heard about Circleville, Ohio, boasting the largest pumpkin and wanted the city of Half Moon Bay to challenge them having a weigh-in at their respective cities and communicating over the phone. Following that first weigh-in, each year something more was added, evolving into the Pumpkin Festival we know today,” says Mello.
Today, Mello said, there are pumpkin weigh-ins and weigh-offs worldwide. "The quest for growing the largest pumpkin has become a global competition,” he said.
Another annual event that Mello dedicates his time to is the , which was also originally founded by his father in the 1970s “when the Coastside was growing and farming was slowing down,” says Mello. “Dad wanted to have a gathering where the local farming and commerce communities could come together to get to know one another and build relationships.”
Today, in its 42rd year, the Mel Mello Farm Day Luncheon, renamed in 1991 in honor of Mel Sr., continues its original mission of recognizing agriculture’s role as an economic engine for San Mateo County and its historical and cultural significance.
“It means responsibility and pride to me,” says Mello of the luncheon.
When asked what he likes the most about living in Half Moon Bay, Mello says, “The fog. Just kidding. It’s home. I’m rooted here.”
Those Coastside roots also go back to the late Mel Mello, who grew up on a dairy ranch in Pescadero and later became an agricultural inspector for San Mateo County. Mello married and raised six children in Half Moon Bay -- one of them Mel Jr.
Mello said that his dad also farmed part-time which, according to Mello, was more of hobby really. According to Mello, his Mel Sr. raised “mostly hay and barely crops on the Coastside from Dunes Beach and Moss Beach, but also sometimes he’d do other crops like peas, alfalfa and pumpkins.”
Mello considers some highlights in his life to include the birth of his own son, winning various truck rodeo petitions, having his work trucks custom painted, spending time with his grandsons, and “all the times I’ve been recognized personally or professionally for doing something that I’m passionate about and would do anyway,” he says.
“Charming,” “happy,” “direct,” and “helpful” are how people who know Mello describe him, says sister Terese George.
“Mom and I put our heads together to think of the adjectives we’ve heard most about Mel over the course of his life, and the most obvious, though, is ‘handsome,’” she says.
Also, “dependable and hard working” with “a smile and twinkle in his eye” are what come to mind for McHugh of the Chamber when describing Mello.
“I’ve had a good life so far,” says Mello. “I’m not a person who sits and reviews all the details of my life. It’s been adventurous and fun.”
Here’s what else Mello has to say:
What makes you truly happy?
“Being on a lake during a hot, clear day.”
You feel at home when?
“I’m at home.”
If you could change something professionally, what would it be?
“At this time, I would not change anything. I have done what I have always wanted to do since I was a child, and that’s drive trucks.”
The cause you are most passionate about:
“I am most passionate about the I.D.E.S. because it’s my heritage being part Portuguese, and I feel connected to that side of my roots and appreciate the time- honored traditions like the Holy Ghost Festival.”
The household chore you secretly hate doing:
“All household chores, and there’s no secret about it.”
What do you love to do when not working?
“I love boating, off-roading, water skiing, camping, and most of all, community service.”
What TV shows or channels do you like to watch?
“I like to watch CNN and the History Channel.”
If you could jump on a plane tomorrow, where to and why:
“Disney World because I love Disney Land and want to experience the larger park now.”