Stars Shine At Hampton Chamber 'Oscar Party'

By Liz Premo, Atlantic News Staff Writer

Atlantic News, Friday, February 25, 2005

[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News.]

AWARD-WINNING ATLANTIC NEWS TEAM! -- From left on front row, Atlantic News Owner & Publisher Michael P. Connelly, General Manager Betty McClean, Sales Executive Michelle Connelly. Back row from left, Graphic Artist Jen Morton, Inside Sales Representative Ann Hogan, Community Editor/21 Voices Editor Liz Premo, Production Manager John Hirtle, Columnist Jerry McConnell, honored for lifetime achievement, and Staff Writer/16 Voices Editor John Deming.

HAMPTON -- The stars were out in all their shining splendor Friday night as the Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce held their Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony — an event worthy of receiving the Oscar for "Best Night on the Town."

Clark Gable, Betty Boop, Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, Mae West, Sharon Stone and many others all made an appearance on the glittering red carpet leading into the Galley Hatch Conference Center, where the event's own version of the paparazzi were on hand to capture images of the celebration.

With a life-sized cardboard cutout of Humphrey Bogart looking on and costumed "stars" pausing to smile for the camera, Chamber members and guests enjoyed refreshments while surrounded by a decidedly Hollywood-influenced décor. Buckets of popcorn, strips of "film," gold confetti "stars" and boxes of movie theatre candy topped the tables in the conference room, the walls of which had movie posters tacked up on them. Stars and streamers shone overhead, and the sound of music filled the room.

Partway through the evening, Chamber President B.J. "Doc" Noel, outgoing Chamber Board Member Tom Nassoura, and Chamber Vice President Jude Dionne (aka Marilyn Monroe) each took their turns at the podium. A recount was given of the Chamber's business for the previous year, and it was announced that Galley Hatch owner John Tinios will chair this year's board of directors, who were also named.

Following these comments, various awards were presented to their very worthy recipients. They were as follows:

• Business of the Year Award, the Atlantic News, in recognition of the independent weekly's "outstanding vision and commitment to the Hampton community;

• Faith in the Future Award to Tuck Museum, "For significantly upgrading the museum's buildings and grounds to better preserve Hampton's heritage;"

• Distinguished Service Award, Robert "Bob" Houle for his "years of dedication and commitment to the Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce and the Hampton community;"

• Lifetime Achievement Award, Atlantic News columnist Jerry McConnell, for his "selfless commitment toward the betterment of the Hampton community and the Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce;"

• William "Bill" Elliot Award, Dan Dolan, in grateful appreciation for his "outstanding service to the Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce and continued support throughout the years of the Hampton Beach Seafood Festival;"

• Special Recognition Award, Brendan McNamara, in grateful appreciation for his "service as a volunteer at Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce;

• Outstanding Commitment Award, Robert Krieger, in sincere appreciation for his "service and support of the Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce;"

• Annual Seafood Festival Award, Richard Roy, "in sincere appreciation for the outstanding performance … shown through the years in support of the Hampton Beach Seafood Festival;

• Special Achievement Award, Lenny Joubert, in sincere appreciation and recognition for her "dedicated service to the Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce and [her] leadership role in the Hampton Beach Seafood Festival."

In addition, Tom Nassoura was presented with a plaque praising his leadership and dedication for his service as chairman of the board for 2004-05. And, Doc Noel himself presented the President's Award to his nominee, Jude Dionne, who in addition to her myriad Chamber responsibilities took over the incredible role of Seafood Festival chairman last year.

As the evening progressed, raffle prizes were handed out, as were prizes for best celebrity look-alike. Both stars and non-stars enjoyed the festivities (carefully planned by the Chamber's Director of Special Events and Sophia Loren double, Ginni McNamara), dancing to tunes crooned by "Frank Sinatra" and closing out the night to the sound of "Neil Diamond." And, as the curtain closed on this year's annual Chamber Awards Meeting and Awards Ceremony, the stars went out .... one by one.