Citizens Bank 5K Summer Fun Run Wednesday family-friendly event

July 18, 2016

By: Larry McHugh

We expect a great crowd for this evening’s chamber members only Business After Work networking reception at the Courtyard by Marriott in Cromwell. The team at the Courtyard is always supportive of chamber events and activities, and they host this popular networking reception annually at their terrific facility. While the theme varies from year to year, the outstanding spread of food and drink, along with the fun summer atmosphere, is a constant. I want to once again thank General Manager Kristen Pikula, Director of Sales Dan Miller, Catering & Events Coordinator Donna Franklin, and the entire staff at the Courtyard for their sponsorship of this reception and for their ongoing support of our chamber.

We are fast approaching the chamber’s 2016 Women in Business Leadership Conference, Luncheon, and Health & Wellness Fair which is scheduled for Thursday, July 28 at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. Sponsored by Citizens Bank, the event will feature Keynote Luncheon Speaker Faith Salie who appears on CBS News Sunday Morning and is the author of the critically acclaimed book, “Approval Junkie.” The program will also feature Gina Barreca, the brilliant weekly columnist from the Hartford Courant, Grace Killelea, “The Confidence Effect” author and highly sought after keynote speaker who is appearing at the conference thanks to the support of Comcast, and Kara Sundlun, two-time Emmy award winning news anchor for WFSB. The Keynote Luncheon and Book Signing featuring Faith Salie will begin at noon. Faith is an Emmy-winning contributor to CBS News Sunday Morning and a panelist on NPR's Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! She also hosts the PBS show, Science Goes To The Movies. As a commentator on politics and pop culture, she has been interviewed by the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Bill O'Reilly, and Anderson Cooper. As a television and public radio host, she herself has interviewed newsmakers from Lorne Michaels to President Carter to Robert Redford. “Approval Junkie” is a collection of daring, funny essays chronicling the author's adventures during her lifelong quest for approval. We look forward to this highly anticipated event and thank our friends at Citizens Bank for sponsoring. I also want to thank our friends at RJ Julia Booksellers for their continued partnership on exciting chamber events. For more information or to register online, please visit

Week two of the 2016 Middletown Summer Youth Employment Program begins today at over 45 host worksites from a variety of different industry sectors. The chamber is proud of this community and workforce development initiative which places young Middletown residents into constructive summer employment for six weeks. While six weeks might not seem like a long time, it provides a solid foundation and a great glimpse into what life in the workforce is like. During the six weeks, our young people not only learn the fundamentals of employment, such as getting to work on time and ready to contribute, but also the pride that comes with putting in a solid work week and receiving a paycheck that was earned through hard and honest work. I will continue to provide updates on the program as the work experience rolls along, and we all continue to appreciate the support of our host worksites and of our program funders.

The Citizens Bank 5K Summer Fun Run will be held this Wednesday evening in downtown Middletown and the surrounding areas. This unique family-oriented festival and road race will once again attract a huge field of runners and a number of supportive spectators. The half-mile Kids Fun Run begins at 4:30 p.m. and the 5K Road Race begins at 6:45 p.m. The post-race festivities and award presentations will be held between 7 p.m.  and 8 p.m. The committee charged with planning and executing this event does a fine job every year, and I want to thank them for their hard work. Finally, we should all recognize the efforts of the city personnel who work hard to make this event safe and successful on an annual basis. I look forward to another fun evening in downtown Middletown this Wednesday.

This year’s Travelers Championship, scheduled for August 1-7 at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, will once again bring large numbers of spectators, players, and tournament support staff to Middlesex County. The Travelers Championship is a major economic generator that fills our area hotels, restaurants, and other businesses. This major PGA event not only attracts most of the best golfers in the world, but it also attracts huge crowds to Cromwell and generates a lot of money for charity. This year’s Travelers Championship is packed with an outstanding Player Field which includes Jim Furyk, Kevin Chappel, Vijay Singh and Luke Donald, all ranked in the top 20 in the Official Work Golf Rankings, along with 152 other players. Each year during tournament week, the chamber is honored to host a Member Breakfast Meeting with a PGA Tour Pro serving as keynote speaker. This year’s Member Breakfast Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, August 2 at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. Our speaker will be 2012 Travelers Championship winner Marc Leishman who is currently the 39th ranked golfer in the world. Discounted tickets for the 2016 Travelers Championship are available at the chamber office, 393 Main Street in Middletown. All tickets available at the chamber are general admission “Grounds” tickets. Cost is $24 per ticket, a $21 savings on the gate price of $45 per ticket for “Grounds” admission. As I have noted many times, we are so lucky to have the Travelers Championship in our region, and we certainly look forward to another great tournament week in Middlesex County. We are also excited to welcome Marc Leishman to Middlesex County for the Member Breakfast Meeting and appreciate his willingness to speak to our members.  I will certainly have more on the Travelers Championship as we get closer to the first week of August, but please be sure to save the dates for this year’s tournament.

It is no secret that tourism has been and continues to be a huge industry in Middlesex County and in the state of Connecticut. I believe strongly in the promotion of tourism, and our chamber has always been a constructive partner with the State of Connecticut and other entities on these strategic initiatives. I applauded members of the General Assembly who created a Tourism Caucus to focus on these important issues at the legislative level. Chamber Vice Presidents Jeff Pugliese and Johanna Bond attended a special meeting of the Tourism Caucus on Friday, July 8 at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford which focused on the recent cuts to the regional tourism districts in the State of Connecticut. The chamber has been a longtime supporter and collaborator with the districts, and we understand that investment in tourism promotion produces a strong return. We have concerns about these cuts and any cuts to tourism promotion, and will continue to be a constructive partner on these important tourism based conversations as we move forward. The chamber’s Tourism Committee continues to be very active on a number of fronts. The Tourism Committee’s main focus is to help position Middlesex County as a regionally, nationally and internationally recognized State of Connecticut destination through promotion, events, awareness campaigns, and more. The commission’s newest initiative is, Where’s Sunny? Sunny is a sunshine mascot that travels to demonstrate that “the sun always shines in Middlesex County.” Each week, from June 20 until August 22, clues on Sunny’s location are posted on the chamber’s social media accounts, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with the hashtag, #WheresSunny. Followers of the chamber’s social media pages can then comment on the post and indicate where they think Sunny’s location is. Every Friday, Sunny’s location is revealed and one lucky participant who correctly guessed during the contest is chosen to win a gift card to that week’s tourism destination. Not only is this a fun, interactive program for the community, it helps highlight different tourist locations and attractions in our great county. I want to thank Chairman Bob Bell and our entire Tourism Steering Committee for their strong efforts on this very important issue.

The 11th Annual Middletown Motorcycle Mania, presented by Hunter’s Ambulance, Hunter Limousines & the Hunter Family, and driven by Haymond Law Office, will be held on Wednesday, August 10 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. This event is held in memory of Dan M. Hunter, a founding sponsor of Middletown Motorcycle Mania. Over 6,000 bikes are expected to converge on Main Street for the 11th anniversary of this annual Middletown event which will showcase custom and vintage motorcycles. In 2015, there were over 6,000 motorcycles on display along with thousands of spectators. All bikes are welcome to come out for the largest one-day summer motorcycle event in New England, an event that is sure to be a fantastic time for everyone involved. I will have more on the 11th Annual Middletown Motorcycle Mania as we get closer, but everyone should save the date of August 10, and the rain date of August 17.

I would like to close this week’s column by acknowledging the Middletown State Veterans Cemetery Expansion and Improvements Project Columbarium Ribbon Cutting Ceremony which was held last Thursday. Lorenzo Marshall from the chamber team represented our organization at this important event. Construction was recently completed on a new Columbarium burial area which will include 3000 niche structures, a walkway, landscaping, a parking area, and pedestrian circulation pathways. This project was developed to expand the capacity of the State Veterans Cemetery, and to add burial options for veterans and their dependents. Middletown is the proud host of the State Veterans Cemetery, and we continue to appreciate all of those who have served our nation.

The summer is rolling right along in Middlesex County, and the chamber continues to be on the move.