story & photo
by Jessica Warzeniak
On Tuesday, August 26, Rose City Renaissance (RCR) held its first Community Annual Meeting at the Community Information Center, its new home at 2-6 Cliff Street, Norwich, to recognize the commitment and accomplishments of the individuals and organizations who daily engage in making the vision of revitalization a reality in Norwich. The informative and interactive program provided a report of the activity of RCR during the past year and where it hopes to go in the coming months and years.
The Annual Meeting also provided the opportunity for RCR to recognize the accomplishments of four individuals and businesses. This year’s honorees included Robert Oickle, executive director, YMCA of Southeastern CT, Marcy Vitagliano, owner, Morning Glories Floral Designs and Pottery, Joseph Manfredi, owner, Billy Wilson’s Ageing Still, and Richard and Joyce Morrison, owners, The Ice Cream Shop.
Robert is this year’s recipient of the 2008 Face of Main Street Award in recognition of the impressive ongoing renovations and reinvigoration of the YMCA. In addition to the benefits of the physical structure, which anchors one end of RCR’s designated program area, the YMCA’s effort in expanding programming, producing events and growing their memberships is helping to enliven downtown.
Marcy received the 2008 Bring Back the Bustle Award in recognition of her contribution to the revitilization of Norwich by bringing people and commerce back to the downtown area. The opening of Morning Glories is a significant addition, not just to the recently restored Wauregan, but to Broadway itself. Her sense of style trandsends her beautiful floral arrangements, infusing her shop and its display windows with presentations filling all the senses. By opening the shop’s displays to the street, it is as if she is poised to transform Broadway single-handedly.
Joseph and Billy Wilson’s Ageing Still are the recipient of the 2008 Heart of Main Street Award in recognition of his positive impact in downtown Norwich and the surrounding areas. Whether at the “original” Billy Wilson’s on Franklin Street or the “new” Billy Wilson’s Ageing Still on Broadway, Joe is a fixture on the Norwich scene. His enthusiasm, vibrant spirit, generosity, and commitment to the city are as important as bricks and mortar in the revitalization of the historic downtown.
Richard and Joyce are the recipients of the 2008 Downtown Life Award in recognition of maintaining a veteran business that shows its commitment to Norwich by maintaining its operation downtown and working to make the city’s core viable. From their location in Franklin Square, the Morrisons saw many changes in downtown. They unflaggingly continued on and worked to serve those whose careers center around downtown. From their salad bar to their reasonably priced, tasty lunches, to their spectacular ice cream, their efforts keep downtown going strong. Their business is a valuable thread in the fabric of downtown Norwich.