story & photo
by Alexis Ann
Once again, the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce rolled out the red carpet at its annual membership banquet on June 20th for community stars, Malcolm Makin, Citizen of the Year and Westerly Veterans Memorial Committee members Ed Liguori and Walter Kimball, Key Award recipients. The gala was held at the esteemed Venice Restaurant and Banquet Hall proving to be a perfect choice for such an extraordinary soiree.
The cocktail reception featured live music by Coastline Swing Band outside on the terrace where all enjoyed their favorite libation and the gentle cool breezes off our mighty Atlantic, only a few football fields away. Inside the lounge area, people huddled around exquisite auction items donated by an array of local businesses.
This event, a favorite ‘sell-out’ for the Chamber every year, acts as an official preamble to summer especially, for our ‘snowbirds’ returning from sunnier states. For our seasonal business owners, it’s a time to renew acquaintances and predict numbers for the oncoming summer season. The high level of camaraderie is contagious and the roar of laughter increases as the bartenders grow more popular.
Soon, the crowd of 200 was guided upstairs via stairway and elevator to the banquet dining hall. Everyone is seated and Chamber Chairman Bruce Morrow, General Manager, Valenti Subaru, welcomes all.
The effervescent Lisa Konicki, Chamber president, for the past 20-plus years, officiates the year-end report and pro auctioneer Dan Stanavage begins and we all remember why we’re here—to raise monies for this worthwhile organization that acts as a catalyst for increased value to the Westerly-Pawcatuck, two-state area. Over $14,000 was generated from the auction this year.
This year’s Key Award recipient is Westerly Veterans Memorial Committee. This award was established to honor those whose selfless actions have helped the Chamber achieve its mission. Ed Liguori and Walter Kimball accepted the award on behalf of the Westerly Veterans Memorial Committee. A standing ovation is given.
Finally, Citizen of the Year 2018 Malcolm Makin is called to the podium after a thorough slide presentation is shown depicting Mal’s story. A standing ovation is given and the crowd roars. If you know Mal, you know that he is an Olympian for giving back to his community.