The community packed the Bianchi Community Center on Friday evening, Jan. 18 to recognize the nominees in their featured categories at the 73rd annual Oakdale Chamber of Commerce Annual Award Dinner.
Outgoing Chamber President Brett Dickerson provided droll commentary as he kicked off the evening by naming the Chamber Director of the Year, Jerry Jones.
“We appreciate all Jerry has done for Oakdale and the Oakdale community,” Dickerson said.
Although Jones wasn’t able to attend, Dickerson joked that “Sacheen Littlefeather” would be accepting his award on his behalf.
“If that name means anything to you, you are at least 60 years old,” Dickerson said, eliciting some laughs from the crowd.
He then relinquished the podium to the Master of Ceremonies Pete Simoncini, who kicked off the evening by saying, “After viewing this highly distinguished list of nominees, it is very apparent that we are a very lucky community … Speaking from the heart, this is indeed, the best little town anywhere and all of our nominees certainly validate that opinion. Each of them is a credit to our community …”
Simoncini introduced the Thompson Sisters, Vickie, Vivian and Valrie, who were, collectively, awarded the Oakdale Lifetime Achievement Award and took to the stage to say a few words.
Vivian Thompson took point for her sisters, saying, “You don’t even know the honor that we feel receiving this award. We have loved Oakdale all of our lives … As Pete and Mr. Dickerson have said, this is one of the most wonderful small towns in the whole world.”
Grace Verdegaal was named Junior Achiever of the Year among her peers.
Native Daughters of the Golden West Oakdale Parlor No. 125 was awarded for Community Service in a packed category.
Club president Donna Bryant said, “On behalf of Native Daughters of the Golden West we just want our name to be out there and let people know that we’re here and this really helps us.”
Small Business of the Year went to Me and My Feet owners Jennifer and Joe Brown. Jennifer took to the podium, saying, “My husband and I started this business on a wing and a prayer and this award is just as much yours as it is mine because as a community you’ve chosen us as your shoe store. You’ve trusted us to take care of your feet when they’re hurting. We’ve built beautiful friendships. Thank you so very much.”
Large Business of the Year went to SaveMart. Store Manager Tony Angoletta said he was humbled by the award, adding, “SaveMart has really invested in the community, there’s a real commitment to Oakdale. I could not be up here without a great team.”
Lastly, Cherilyn Bairos was awarded Citizen of the Year amongst thunderous applause.
Bairos, recently re-elected as a city councilwoman, took to the podium, with a smile, ready to give all the praise back to the community, saying, “In order to do these things we do in Oakdale we all have to come together … so I’d thank all those people who put in those tireless hours to put on all these events … amazing. I love you Oakdale, I love you so much.”