Tuesday, July 17, 2012

New Tacoma Award Recipients Honored

Businesses, organizations and individuals who make outstanding contributions to downtown Tacoma were recognized with the annual New Tacoma Awards at the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber’s monthly Luncheon held today at the Pacific Grill Events Center. 

Keeping with last year's awards, the awards themselves are beautiful glass sculptures hand-crafted by Hilltop Artists mounted on bases.  The New Tacoma Awards are proudly sponsored by Absher Construction Company.

The 2012 New Tacoma Awards recipients are:
  • First Night Tacoma-Pierce County received the Union Station Award that recognizes leading organizations, companies or individuals that have built or sustained momentum for revitalization. As a celebration of rebirth and new beginnings, First Night was itself reborn five years ago after a brief hiatus.  This year, it again showed its strength bringing thousands of people downtown for a full day of family friendly celebration. While the coalition of people and organizations contributing to First Night each year changes a little it has been a welcome celebration of the New Year.  Each year First Night reminds people who might not otherwise come downtown that downtown is a safe and fun place for all ages.  As the nominator said, “We need to cherish this institution.”
  • LeMay – America’s Car Museum received the Ghilarducci Award that recognizes successful new development, renovation or beautification.  Past decades of annual LeMay family car shows have brought patrons and participants from around the world.  With the opening of the LeMay Museum, heralded by USA Today as one of the top 10 events to attend worldwide in 2012.  Harold and Nancy LeMay’s vision to preserve their unique collection is a gift not only to our community, but to the world of car enthusiasts as well. This year’s Ghilarducci Award winner builds on the successes of Tacoma to increase the visitor draw to downtown.  America’s Car Museum has truly global appeal while engaging volunteers in its mission.  In the nominator's words, “I cannot tell you the joy that volunteers and visitors experience when viewing these one-of-a-kind collections."
  • The Swiss received the Schoenfeld Award that recognizes exemplary performance and pizzazz as a retailer. While The Swiss started out in a forgotten corner of downtown, downtown has come to it.  With the continued growth of UWT, Owners Jack McQuade and Bob Hill have been updating their approach to make the 19 year old institution more family friendly during the day while still, in the words of the nominator, “rocking the old space since before reclaimed buildings were cool.” Owners McQuade, Hill and Bertagni were downtown pioneers when they opened The Swiss in 1993.  Since then, they’ve faced street reconstruction, construction of a University, the death of a partner, and a constantly evolving downtown.  With great sandwiches like the Heart Smart Art to go along with musical acts drawing people to downtown Tacoma, we look forward to The Swiss contributing to downtown’s renaissance for decades to come.

  • Tim Waer, Tacoma South Sound Sports, received the Popham Award that recognizes the individual who has done the most to build community spirit.  Tim has always had incredible energy for Tacoma, Pierce County, and athletics.  This past winter he turned his energy towards bringing these sports downtown with the first Let's Play Sports and Fitness Fest.  In less than two months he pulled off an event at the Convention Center that brought thousands of kids, parents, and athletes to downtown Tacoma.  This year’s Popham winner continues to build his record of community involvement and support of downtown and the greater Tacoma community.  While much of Tim’s energy has gone toward the success of Tacoma as a mecca for amateur sports, what many people don’t realize is just how many visitors this brings to downtown Tacoma every year.  With the Let’s Play Festival this January, downtown saw thousands of true amateurs, many under 12, come experience downtown.

  • Wright Park Sprayground & Playground received the second Public Places Award that recognizes the best activation of a public park, open space or area within the public right-of-way. While Wright Park is over 100 years old it had a less than stellar reputation among families. Under the guidance of the Tacoma Metropolitan Park District and the Greater MetroParks Foundation, a revamping of the park was undertaken.  With the reworking of the ponds and playground and the addition of the sprayground last summer, Wright Park has become a year round family destination again. The coalition to rebuild Wright Park stems not only from public agencies, but from the extraordinary gifts of the community.  As part of the three-point-five million dollar Zinna Linnik project and capital campaign, not only was Wright Park given new life, but McCarver Park was completely renovated as well.  Without these investments, the community might have slowly forgotten about these downtown jewels.

The Luncheon, held at the Pacific Grill Events Center, was sponsored by Cascade Regional Blood Services.  The next Chamber Luncheon is scheduled for Friday, August 10, 2012.

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