<bt>Spirits were high last week at the Mount Vernon Country Club. Once again, the Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce’s Holiday Celebration was a big success, with a record number of attendees. After relaxing and networking to the tunes of the Dodson Burns Jazz Quartet, guests took their seats for dinner. Steve Chaconas took the podium and, after opening ceremonies, initiated the gift exchange. This customary swap always provides a bit of levity for the people who participate.
After the gift exchange, Dan Rinzel announced the recipients of the various public safety awards for 2004. Lt. Matthew Malof was recognized as Firefighter of the Year; Police Officer First Class Carlos Lama as Police Officer of the Year, Franconia Station; and Second Lieutenant Thomas J. Rogers as Police Officer of the Year, Mount Vernon Station.
Rinzel also acknowledged the work of Battalion Chief Elliott Rubino; Lt. Mike Dittmer, Mount Vernon District Police Station; and Lt. Butch Gamble, acting commander of the Franconia District Police Station.
The Rev. Grant McIntosh, chaplain, Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department, was honored for his service to the chamber. Then Sergeant Major Andre Douglas presented Specialist Karen Antonyan with the Fort Belvoir Soldier of the Year award and Sergeant Charlene Lynch with the Sergeant of the Year award.
In keeping with tradition, Chamber board members Dan Rinzel, Barbara Sullivan and Rick Neel led the group in Christmas caroling before handing the microphone back to Chaconas, who closed with the familiar tune of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” As usual, chamber members lent their special rendition to “The Twelve Days of Business,” with table four giving Chaconas a few chuckles with their contribution of “Four Free Frankenfish Fishing Trips with Steve.”
<1b>— Gale Curcio