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Riverview Chamber travels back in time at annual awards banquet

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image Striking a pose, the 2014 Board of Directors. Photo Penny Fletcher

This year’s Riverview Chamber of Commerce Annual Membership and Awards Dinner was a blast from the past, with the theme “We’re 48, Let’s Celebrate.”

By PENNY FLETCHER
 
From the Supremes to The Monkees the music — like the décor — was mostly Sixties, with a little Fifties thrown in. The actual year targeted was 1966.

Guests wore tie-dye shirts and bell-bottom pants and flowers in their hair. Men had hair that hung down beyond their shoulders, and women wore headbands and mini-skirts.

Yes, this year’s Riverview Chamber of Commerce Annual Membership and Awards Dinner was a blast from the past, with the theme “We’re 48, Let’s Celebrate.”

Much has happened to that chamber in the last 48 years. Some of its history was given by emcee Jim Smeaton and his “Vanna White” assistant, outgoing President Donna Lee Fore, who had strands of “Donna, Donna, Prima Donna” played several times when she appeared on stage.

The consensus from the speakers — and there were many, from Riverview’s 2014 Honorary Mayor Clifton Kennedy to incoming President Joe Eletto — is that this chamber has grown to more than 350 members and most of this growth has taken place in just the last few years.

There were so many awards earned that it was hard to keep up with the action. And there was certainly a lot of action.

Every table had a theme song, like Canine Cabana’s “Little Red Riding Hood,” with its red-caped-and-hooded women and one howling wolf, with music provided by Music on the Move DJs.

People didn’t recognize the usually dignified president of Hillsborough Community College’s South County campus, Dr. Allen Witt, or his wife Mercedes, in their ultra-hippie garb.

It was a fun night, planned by chamber members and their office staff, with food catered by Lupton’s Restaurant and Catering, held in the Carousel Room of the Showmen’s Club in Riverview.

Sponsored by Mosaic Fertilizer LLC, South Bay Hospital and the Tampa Electric Co., the event began with a prayer given by Pastor John Legg, followed by a Presentation of the Colors by members of East Bay High School’s JROTC.

4-Heart-Harmony, a group of four Valrico girls ages 13 to 15, sang the national anthem and later not only sang 1960s songs, but also danced to them.

Outgoing President Fore pretended she didn’t want to turn the gavel over to incoming President Eletto, making jokes throughout the evening about stealing it back.

Lisa Kennedy’s performance as Marilyn Monroe singing “Happy Birthday, Mr. President,” to Eletto nearly sent tablemate District IV County Commissioner Al Higginbotham to his knees in laughter.

After dinner, many awards were presented, and the reasons for the selections chosen were read aloud as they were accepted.

Annual awards were first presented to 2014 Honorary Mayor Clifton Kennedy; 2013 Ambassador of the Year Jennifer Caskey; 2013 Volunteer of the Year Margy Watkins; 2013 Shining Star of the Year Jennifer King; and 2013 Citizen of the Year Tammy Holmberg.

Shining Star winner Jennifer King

Businesses of the Year included three categories.

First, there was the award for businesses with fewer than 10 employees. Finalists were Michelle Mosher of Great Florida Insurance South Shore; James J Pulkowski, CPA; and Stuart Mackey of Mackey Productions, who took the award.

Then came businesses with from 11 to 300 employees; finalists included Canine Cabana, represented by Angie Frazier and Kendall Duncan; Natalie Carr of Carr Pediatric Dentistry; and Melissa Hartmann, representing The Alley at South Shore. Carr won that award.

Last was the award for businesses with more than 300 employees.In this category, Jennifer Caskey represented CenterState Bank; Jim Johnson represented Mosaic Fertilizer LLC; and Sharon Roush represented South Bay Hospital, with the hospital winning the award.

At evening’s end, all the board members thanked members, then gave their office staff bouquets of roses. The entire four-person staff was present, including Executive Director Tanya Doran; Debbie Kirkland, assistant executive director; Janelle Chavez, administrative support; and Katie Mackey, administrative specialist. The evening ended as incoming President Joe Eletto “found” one more bouquet in the supposedly empty box and presented it to his wife.

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