The top of the news Friday at the 2013 New Tacoma Awards luncheon sponsored by the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber had president and CEO Tom Pierson announcing that his chamber now counts the second-largest membership roll in the state, having recently bettered Spokane.
Then came the award winners at the 10th annual ceremony honoring civic leaders and entrepreneurs for their commitment to a vibrant Tacoma.
This year’s winners:
• The Ghilarducci Award recognizing successful new development, renovation or beautification: Murray Morgan Bridge rehabilitation.
• The Popham Award (named for the late Art Popham, a business columnist at The News Tribune) recognizing the individual who has done the most to build community spirit: Sue Schaeffer, Tacoma Waterfront Association.
• The Public Places Award recognizing the best activation of a public park, open space or right of way: Frost Park Chalk Off.
• The Schoenfeld Award recognizing exemplary performance and pizzazz by a retailer or restaurateur: Dorky’s Bar Arcade.
• The Union Station Award recognizing organizations, companies or individuals that have built or sustained momentum for revitalization: Tacoma Runners.
“You’re seeing a bunch of people doing great things,” Pierson said after the ceremony. “You have one or two people who develop a legacy. I think that’s what’s exciting. It’s how people come together in common cause. We have new leaders popping up, taking on new projects. I really see Tacoma as a place where you can make something of yourself.”
Take Dorky’s, the downtown Tacoma arcade.
Owners and founders Caroline Dennewith and Les Bond were there to receive their award.
“We started this business and a lot of people were against us,” Dennewith said.
“People said an arcade couldn’t make it,” said Bond. “They said, ‘You’re never going to make it.’ We made it.”
And before winter arrives they plan to open a second arcade, Dorky’s Pinbar, in the Sixth Avenue district.
Take Joel Larson, one of the regulars at the Frost Park Chalk Off.
The event for which he accepted the Public Places Award simply comprises an informal gathering of people who meet to have lunch and draw pictures in colored chalk at Larry Frost Park in downtown Tacoma.
The park was once something of an eyesore and was about to be fenced to prevent vandalism or other urban disturbances.
Instead, from spring to early fall, people come to draw pretty pictures.
Or take Sue Schaeffer of the Tacoma Waterfront Association.
“I think this is a huge turning point for the waterfront, all 46 miles of the waterfront,” she said after the ceremony. “When I started we were bare-bones. It was an informal group, and most of us met through Tall Ships.”
And now there are float planes landing in Tacoma. Maritime Fest has become a regional celebration. Nearly a hundred boaters, plus their crews and families, are expected to attend next month’s T-Town Sailing Championship, which Schaeffer said is the first formal regatta in living memory in Tacoma.
The five category winners Friday were chosen from among 23 nominees, such as Benjii Bittle at the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts, Savor Tacoma Creperie and Creative Forces Gifts and Sundries at Hotel Murano, the Hillside Development Council, and Tacoma South Sound Sports.
Ricardo Noguera, director of Community and Economic Development at the city of Tacoma, failed to appear in time to deliver his scheduled keynote address on “Sharing the Optimism.”C.R. Roberts: 253-597-8535 email@example.com