iSociety: Rochelle Rose

[Click here for a Noozhawk photo gallery from the event.]

55 Years of Honoring the Best of Carpinteria
One hundred years ago, a group of Carpinteria business leaders established the Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce to “encourage a strong local economy and to support the local community.” Forty-seven years later, in 1958, the the chamber staged its first Citizen of the Year Banquet to recognize an outstanding individual for community service. This year’s 55th annual event was held recently at the United Boys & Girls Club of Carpinteria, continuing this decades-old tradition.

This year’s event was a real “hometown” affair during the social hour with Carpinteria Lions Club members serving as friendly bartenders, live music performed by the Cate School Jazz Ensemble, along with culinary and printed contributions by the local Albertsons, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Rockwell Printing and Sunburst Printers. Actor Rob Lowe was there to support his son, who performs in the Cate School ensemble.

After the festive social hour, the 275 attendees moved from the Boys & Girls Club’s education rooms and patio to the main gymnasium for the buffet banquet and awards ceremony. A Carpinteria event wouldn’t be complete without abundant flora and fauna decor, which was supplied by Carpinteria growers Ever-Bloom, Hilltop Flowers, Island View Nursery, Ocean Breeze, Myriad Flowers International, Norman’s Nursery and Sunrise Wholesale Flowers.

Important financial supporters included Gold Sponsors Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP, Carpinteria Masonic Lodge No. 444, Hickey Bros. Land Co., Montecito Bank & Trust, Rabobank, Union Bank and Venoco Inc.

Silver Sponsors were the City of Carpinteria, Cox Business, E.J. Harrison & Sons, Holiday Inn Express, Hollandia Produce LLC/Live Gourmet, MarBorg Industries and Rincon Energy.

Bronze Sponsors included Clayton Tree Service, and Nadia and Ed Van Wingerden.

VIP Sponsors were Bailard Citrus Co., Chase and McDonald’s.

Chamber board members who supported the event included chairwoman Terry Hickey Banks, chairman-elect Jim Drain, secretary Kara Camp, treasurer Paul Wright, past chairman Tom Ligare, Paul Avolio, Marc Borowitz, Anthony Castillo, Jamie Collins, Nan Drake, Dave Durflinger, Michael Ensign, Martha Flores, Karen Graf, Kiona Gross, Curtis Lopez, Lori Pearce, Ida Pointer-Gomez, Roland Rotz Ph.D., Rich Rozzelle and John Thomas.

During the president’s remarks, Carpinteria Valley chamber president and CEO Lynda Lang complimented her staff, including Karen Gebhart, Pat Kistler, Ginger Plum, Jess Willis and Stephanie Zimmerman. Also lauded was the platinum contribution of Carpinteria-based caterer Rincon Events and Zoo Catering. Indeed the hundreds of guests were handily ushered past four buffet tables loaded with delicate fish piccata, ricchio-laced salad, the crowd-pleasing carrot walnut souffle, roasted potatoes and vegetables, giant ravioli, and hand-carved roast beef, followed by local candy desserts by Chocolats du CaliBressan and Robitaille’s.

Garnering the 2012 Carpinterian of the Year tribute was Lou Panizzon, longtime Carpinteria educator and coach. He served as Carpinteria High School principal and a Carpinteria Unified School District trustee. A UC Santa Barbara graduate, Panizzon served with distinction in the Vietnam War and later worked as the head baseball, football and track coach at Carpinteria High, as well as the school’s athletic director., the subscription-based online video training company that employs 400 in Carpinteria, was named the Large Business of Year, and a personalized video clip by founders Lynda Weinman and Bruce Heavin was screened. Curious Cup Bookstore, established just two years ago by Kiona Gross, was awarded the Small Business of the Year.

2012 Educators of the Year were awarded to Janis Smith a 37-year veteran of the Carpinteria Unified School District, and Elise Unruh, a 30-year music and theater teacher at Carpinteria High. Three Carpinteria High students — Andrea Delgado, Audrey Lent and Gabriela Mendoza — were Junior Carpinterian finalists.

Incoming Carpinteria Valley chamber board chairwoman Terry Hickey Banks thanked the chamber staff, the board, the all-important Chamber Ambassadors, awards event chairwoman Karen Graf and her committee, and the community for their part in making the chamber such a success in Carpinteria.

“This is a record-breaking year for attendance,” she noted.

In addition, 37 new members were added to the chamber, monthly “Lunch and Learning” sessions and business-after-hours mixers were hosted, the annual State of the Community breakfast was held, and the annual September golf tournament was another success.

Click here for more information about the Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce, or call 805.684.5476.

Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at Follow her on Twitter: @NoozhawkSociety and connect with Noozhawk on Facebook and Pinterest.