By Keith Knepp
NAPPANEE — It was a busy evening for many people in the Nappanee community on Monday. Months ago, when Nappanee Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jeff Kitson scheduled the organization’s annual dinner at Sammlung Platz, he had no idea that another gigantic and historic community celebration would be taking place a couple miles away at NorthWood High School on the same evening.
At 5 p.m., the Wa-Nee faithful gathered at the school to celebrate the boys basketball state championship that was won two nights prior in Indianapolis. At 6 p.m. was the chamber dinner, creating a dilemma for many who were compelled to attend both events.
In the end, it worked out for most. The basketball party ended just in time for the NorthWood faithful to jump in their cars and head to the sprawling, beautiful facility on the far west side of town. Many arrived decked out in their red and black Panther gear just in time to enjoy a buffet-style dinner catered by Mullet’s Dining, which included pulled pork and chicken thighs.
Following dinner and opening remarks by Kitson, the annual awards were handed out by various chamber board members. This year’s theme was “Circle the Wagons” with many board members donning their favorite Western attire.
The 2023 Citizen of the Year Award was presented to Marcus and Debra Miller, owners of Main Street Roasters and Neighbors Mercantile Co., both of which are located in downtown Nappanee and have assisted in the area’s revitalization.
Three Excellence in Business Awards also were presented. This year’s honorees were the Nappanee Boys and Girls Club, Miller’s Orchard and Veni’s Sweet Shop.
The Educator of the Year award was given to Scott Knafel, physical education teacher at NorthWood Middle School.
Following the award presentations, a variety of door prizes were given out to attendees, including two 55-inch televisions, several gift cards and cash prizes, all of which were donated to the event by various chamber member businesses.