Mardi Gras celebrations got a jump start Saturday, Feb. 8, at the Hickory Lakes Conference Center for the Pickerington Area Chamber of Commerce's Annual 2013 Awards Dinner.
The event, sponsored by Diley Ridge Medical Center and Fairfield National Bank, included a silent auction, entertainment and dinner and was highlighted by a brief awards ceremony given to the most outstanding Pickerington area businesses in their respective categories.
"It was a really good, very decorative and festive event," said PACC President Helen Mayle.
"The food had a Cajun theme," she said. "We had about 200 people and they didn't care that it was Ohio weather."
Four major awards were presented to business and individuals in recognition of their achievements in 2013. The awards included:
• Business of the Year: Mount Carmel Health System.
Recognized for its unwavering commitment to the health of the Pickerington/Violet Township communities, Mount Carmel Health Systems took home the PACC's "Business of the Year" Award.
"They are extremely involved in the Pickerington community and will continue to be involved," Mayle said.
Mount Carmel Health System helped to facilitate the first Mount Carmel Health Fair in conjunction with the Taste of Pickerington event last October.
The health fair featured a wide array of free health and wellness offerings including blood pressure and bone density screenings as well as demonstrations about nutrition and strength training.
Additionally, Mount Carmel served as the title sponsor of the annual Mount Carmel Pickerington Violet Festival, which attracted more than 30,000 people to Pickerington's Victory Park in 2013.
Brinsley Lewis, president of Mount Carmel East, accepted the award in behalf of the company.
• New Business of the Year: Tide Dry Cleaners.
The award is given to a new business or organization that makes the largest contribution to both the PACC and the Pickerington community.
Tide Dry Cleaners, which opened in February 2013, was chosen because of the company's active involvement in the Pickerington community.
In addition to the PACC, organizations that Tide Dry Cleaners has supported include the Pickerington Local School District, PCMA Food Pantry, the Violet Festival, OSU Community Days and the Pickerington VFW.
"We appreciate their generosity and their participation in the Pickerington/Violet Township community," Mayle said.
Terry Pickens, director of business operations, accepted the award in behalf of Tide Dry Cleaners.
• Doug Barr Safety Award: Pickerington Manor Jaw and Facial Surgery.
Dedicated to the memory of Violet Township Assistant Fire Chief Doug Barr, the award was to given to Pickerington Manor Jaw and Facial Surgery.
Dr. Manraj S. Bath, an oral surgeon, held an "Extractions on the House" day Sept. 14 in which he offered free dental extractions to those in need.
Dr. Bath and his volunteers extracted more than 70 teeth and conducted x-rays and other procedures totaling over $21,000 in free services.
"He does that for those who can't afford it at least once a year," Mayle said. "It is just amazing."
• Ambassador of the Year: Julie Berman.
Berman, owner of Mascots and More in Pickerington, was recognized for her involvement in welcoming new businesses to the area and in promoting the PACC.
"Julie just does an excellent job," Mayle said.
"She got six new businesses to join the chamber. She's just a ball of energy.