Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Bethlehem Chamber’s 96th Annual Dinner Celebration

Written by Lynn Cunningham, VP of Bethlehem Initiatives

The Musikfest Café was filled with nearly 300 attendees from the Bethlehem business community to participate in the 96th Annual Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce Dinner. Laughter, tears and a boat load of memories were found at this event which was sponsored by Capital Blue Cross, Caruso Benefits Group and BSI Corporate Benefits among others.

The Chamber honored four individuals:
Receiving the Frank Marcon Award was Tony Hanna for his work overseeing all of the unprecedented economic development projects in the City of Bethlehem over the last 16 years (and straddling the terms of two different mayors) which includes overseeing all of the projects that have been/will be built on the Beth Works site as the Redevelopment Authority Director. The Bethlehem Chamber staff put together a terrific Prezi production of all of the projects that Tony Hanna had a hand in, in the City of Bethlehem. Set to the music of Michael Buble’s “Feeling Good”, it was a moving retrospective   of all of the work that has been accomplished in the last two decades. Mayor John Callahan awarded Mr. Hanna the award adding in his own personal touch to the presentation.

Receiving the Priscilla Payne Hurd Award was Alan Jennings, Director Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley  who has been a voice and advocate for the poor. Over his tenure at CACLV, they have started educational programs to assist the poor in starting their own business, getting façade loans for their business and their neighborhoods,  addressing quality of life issues that need to be improved in those poor neighborhoods and even educating the downtrodden to make better decisions that will help them succeed. Don Cunningham, in awarding Alan the PPH Award, affectionately referred to Mr. Jennings as a “pain in the ass” and we are lucky to have him because every community needs someone who makes us think and act upon things that are more comfortable to ignore.

Former Mayor Gordon Mower received The Downtown Visionary Award because of his vision and plan of implementation for a historic looking downtown. Presented by Joe Lennert of Caruso Benefits Group, the award was bestowed because of Gordon’s advocacy which turned Main St into the quaint street it is today with Victorian lampposts, the lay-byes and the brick and slate sidewalks. This was the start of the downtown transformation.

Christine Ussler of Artefact received the second Downtown Visionary Award for all of her work on the facades of the downtown and other sections in the City of Bethlehem. Her designs gave many of the downtown buildings (north and south sides) their historic look and have been influenced by Christine’s eye.  As he was presenting the award, Tony DaRe of BSI Corporate Benefits spoke of the charm of downtown Bethlehem and sited it as a reason that he settled his business there.

The Bethlehem Chamber acknowledged the passing of Linny Fowler and Priscilla Payne Hurd with a moving tribute video produced by Fire Rock Productions. The Valley has benefitted greatly from these two women and no community felt their impact more than the Bethlehem community.  The video, which featured comments by recognizable Lehigh Valley personalities, can be watched here.

Significant Anniversaries were celebrated by three businesses:

The PEEP turned 60 years old. Just Born VP of Corporate Affairs Matt Pye accepted the award along with the PEEP who waddled up on the stage but didn’t actually hold the award because she is a PEEP.  With wings.  No hands. Every table was adorned with special 60th Anniversary PEEPs and the special dessert of the night was made of PEEPS. Thanking Just Born for employing over 600 Lehigh Valley residents and cultivating the PEEP cult status was Terri Bretz, Vice President, Commercial Sales Group, Capital Blue Cross.

American Hairlines celebrated its 20th Anniversary last weekend. Lynn Cunningham, a 14 year customer and VP of Bethlehem for the Chamber presented the award to co-owners, David McCormack and Dru Thomas, citing their contribution to the health and vitality of the Historic Downtown Shopping District in Bethlehem.

The 30th anniversary of Musikfest was celebrated in a unique fashion: when the first strands of the “Chicken Dance” started to play, hundreds of multi-colored balloons dropped from the balcony above to close out this unforgettable evening. We captured it on video for your enjoyment... just don't blame us when the song is stuck in your head!

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