Notice:  Route 9 North, Exit 18 will be closed to traffic on Saturday, October 22nd from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., due to an event!  Main Street (Route 99) in Cromwell will be closed to traffic from Route 372 (West St.) to South St. for “Halloween On Main Street”.  To access the event, take Exit 19 on Route 9 North.

Middletown’s Cruise Night draws thousands to Main Street

June 20, 2016

By: Larry McHugh

Downtown was packed last Wednesday evening as Middletown’s 19th Annual Cruise Night on Main, powered by NAPA, turned out to be a huge success. Over 1000 cars, beautiful weather, outstanding vendors, and a fun atmosphere attracted thousands of people to Main Street, the South Green, and bordering streets. One of the highlights of this major annual downtown event is the presentation of the Sponsors Awards. The Sponsor Awards for the 2016 Cruise Night on Main were as follows: The Best In Show Award, Powered by NAPA, was presented to Eric Hansen of Westbrook for his 1970 Orbit Orange Pontiac GTO Ram Air III, The Veteran’s Choice Award, presented by Jackson Chevrolet, was presented to Bob Chadd of Durham for his 1957 black Chevrolet Bel Air, The Main Drag Award, presented by Middletown Downtown Business District, was presented to Neil Ferwerda of Cobalt for his 1977 Teal & White Ford F250, The All American Award, presented by All American Productions, was presented to Scott Lynch of Centerbrook for his 1954 Blue on Blue Oldsmobile Super 88 Hard Top, Liberty’s Choice Award, presented by Liberty Bank, was presented to Guy Monteforte of South Windsor for his 1973 Blue Plymouth Baracuda, The Apple Rehab Choice Award, presented by Apple Rehab, was presented to Eddie Langley of Middletown for his 1966 Red Chevrolet Corvette Coupe, Flood’s Choice Award, presented by Flood Law Firm, was presented to Bob Cote of Clinton for his 1980 Black Chevrolet Corvette, The AAA Diamond Award, presented by AAA Cromwell, was presented to Tom Melia of Portland for his 1936 Black Ford Cabriolet, The Sparkling Clean Award, presented by Servpro of Middletown/New Britain, was presented to Rick Bennett of Danbury for his 1939 Black Diamond T Wrecker, and the Mayor’s Choice Award, presented by Mayor Daniel Drew, was presented to Robert Gasparri of Waterbury for his 1954 Teal Chevrolet 210. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our sponsors for their incredible support of this major event. Cruise Night on Main would not be possible without the strong and enduring support of all of our sponsors, and I want to give a special thank you, on behalf of the chamber to: Title Sponsor, NAPA; Diamond Sponsors Jackson Chevrolet and Middletown Downtown Business District; Gold Sponsors Apple Rehab, Liberty Bank, and the Flood Law Firm; Silver Sponsors AAA and Serv Pro of Middletown & New Britain, and Bronze Sponsors First & Last Tavern, Untouchable Towing and Middletown Area Transit. Additional sponsors include: Lyman Orchards, Middlesex Music Academy and All American Productions. I also want to again thank The Eastern Chapter Over the Hill Gang Car Club and the Connecticut Military Car Club for their assistance at the event. Proceeds from Cruise Night will benefit Middletown youth programs including the Hal Kaplan Middletown Mentor Program, Middletown Recreation Programs, and the Middletown Summer Youth Employment Program. Cruise Night on Main would also not be possible without the terrific planning committee, led by Foster Charles and Rich Greco, and I thank them for their outstanding volunteer effort. We would be remiss if we did not all thank the City of Middletown for its strong and continuing support of this and all downtown events. The Police Department, Fire Department, Public Works Department, Parking Department, and all other city personnel that supported the event were outstanding as usual. Finally, I thank Mayor Dan Drew and the Middletown Common Council for their strong and continuing support, and for recognizing the importance of bringing this event to the downtown area. The 19th Annual Cruise Night on Main is in the books, and we are already looking forward to next year.

The chamber’s June Member Breakfast Meeting will take place this morning at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. We are excited to welcome University of Connecticut Athletic Director David Benedict as guest speaker at the event which is sponsored by First Niagara Bank. I appreciate Dave Benedict’s willingness to visit with our group during this very busy time, and very much appreciate the support of New England Regional President Jeff Hubbard and the entire First Niagara Bank team.

Immediately following the Member Breakfast Meeting with UConn AD Benedict, the First Niagara Workshop Series will continue with a session on cyber security titled, “The Evolving Risks of Cyber Liability.” This important workshop will address cyber risks, emerging concerns in the cyber area, and the best practices for dealing with data breaches, network and information security, and privacy liability. Cyber security is a critical issue to the business community, and protecting vital networks and business assets is of the utmost importance. I encourage our members to take this issue seriously, and am pleased that many of our breakfast registrants are planning to stay for the workshop. I also want to thank First Niagara for sponsoring this important workshop series which has been a great resource for chamber members.

The 2016 Middlesex County Spring Career Fair will be held from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. today at the Radisson and will feature close to 50 employers and hundreds of job seekers. Professional Resume Writers will be on site to assist in the development of resumes and cover letters. The chamber is proud to partner with the Connecticut Department of Labor and Workforce Alliance on this important event which is designed to connect highly skilled and qualified job seekers with employment opportunities available in our region. The Middlesex County Career Fair has a long history of providing a cost-effective, results-oriented career fair for attending employers. We expect a number of terrific companies from a wide variety of industry sectors to join us. I want to take a moment to once again thank the Department of Labor, under the leadership of Commissioner Scott Jackson, and Workforce Alliance, under the leadership of Executive Director Bill Villano, for not only their support of the Middlesex County Career Fair, but for their longtime support of workforce development in Middlesex County and throughout our state. 

I look forward to attending a retirement celebration for John Meerts which is scheduled for this evening at Usdan University Center on the campus of Wesleyan University. John is retiring after an impressive 20 years of service at Wesleyan where he has served as Vice President for Finance and Administration, Director for Information Technology Services, and Vice President for Information Technology. I appreciate John’s service to Wesleyan, to our chamber, and to the Middletown community. We all wish him the best in his retirement.

Two important chamber division meetings will take place this week at different locations in Middlesex County. The All Middletown Division will meet tomorrow, June 21, from 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. at the Wadsworth Mansion in Middletown. The speaker will be Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman who will visit with our Middletown based members for a conversation about Connecticut’s future. In addition to Lt. Gov. Wyman’s remarks, reports from Mayor Dan Drew and a number of city department directors will be part of the meeting agenda. I want to once again thank Lt. Gov. Wyman for attending this meeting and for being such a strong and longtime supporter of our chamber going back to her tenure as Connecticut’s State Comptroller. The chamber’s Haddam and East Haddam Division will meet on Thursday morning, June 23rd, at Connecticut River Expeditions in Haddam. Local updates will be provided by Haddam First Selectwoman Lizz Milardo, East Haddam First Selectman Mark Walter, and other key local officials.

Later in the day on Thursday, I look forward to attending two exciting grand opening celebrations in the City of Middletown. Perk on Main will host its event at its new 344 Main Street location beginning at 3:00 p.m. I, along with Mayor Dan Drew and Middletown Small Business Development Center counselor Paul Dodge, will join owner Katie Hughes-Nelson and her Main Street Middletown team as we officially welcome them to the downtown business community. We certainly wish them the best of luck at what is now Perk on Main’s third location joining Durham and Guilford. Perk on Main offers organic coffee and terrific local food in an environmentally friendly and socially conscious way.

Forest City Brewing will host its own Grand Opening celebration at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday afternoon. This event will take place at its 180 Johnson Street (Remington Rand Building) location and I will again be joined by Mayor Dan Drew and Middletown Small Business Development Center counselor Paul Dodge as we welcome Chris Coughlin and his team to the local business community. Forest City Brewing produces a variety of different beers and sells them in a variety of different ways, from single servings, to growlers, and much more. We certainly wish them the best as we move forward.

As you can see by this week’s column, the chamber calendar has been packed with events and activities over the past month. The chamber team continues to work hard every day on behalf of the business community in Middlesex County, and I continue to be very proud of all of them. The sun always shines on Middlesex County!