“Twenty-five years is an amazing milestone for an organization,” said Darren Gooch, president of the Seaside Downtown Development Association’s board of directors.
Gooch and present and past members were joined by “everybody’s who’s played a part in the success of SDDA,” added Celeste Kenneally, the organization’s office and events assistant.
“I think we are off to a really good start for the new year,” Kenneally said, pointing to the new office on Broadway. “It’s not as big as the last one (on North Holladay), but it’s big enough that people can stop by and drop stuff off.”
The association serves downtown businesses and helps increase the economic vibrancy of Seaside downtown core, Gooch said.
Past association presidents stood for recognition at the Thursday, Jan. 10, celebration at the Times Theatre on Broadway in Seaside.
Karen Emmerling of Beach Books, Peter Ter Har of Ter Har’s; Wayne Poole , Randy Frank, formerly of Norma’s; Greg Boat of Del Sol; and Julie Jesse were among the former leaders in attendance. Former association directors Laurie Mespelt, Bree Phillips aind Tita Montero also were recognized.
The association was formed in 1993 by a group of downtown businessmen and women who joined together to improve and promote downtown Seaside.
First meetings took place on the lower level of the Shilo Inn. “We felt we needed a group that would take care of issues in our area,” Jeff Ter Har, an original member, said.
In recent years, the group has met consistently week-in, week-out at the Pig ‘N Pancake on Broadway. The gathering provides a welcome and introductions to newcomers and a gathering place for longtime business owners alike.
Pig ‘N Pancake owner Wayne Poole narrated a slide show chronicling the organizations history, from membership in the Downtown Oregon Cities organization to a string of events including car shows, Halloween and holiday events, and favorites like flower basket decorations and the Seaside Wine Walk, started in 2001.
The flower basket program, started in 1995 at the direction of Shirley Loutzenhiser, was inspired by a similar program in Lake Oswego. Funded by private donations, baskets are maintained by Seaside’s “official gardener” Pam Fleming.
The Seaside Golf Classic, which debuted in 2002, brings proceeds to area civic organizations and charities in an event sponsored annual by Ocean Crest Chevrolet.
The street car came to Seaside in 2001 with the cooperation of the Sunset Empire Transportation Department.
The association helped bring bus parking to the convention center and provide Prom-style lighting in the downtown. New trash cans brighten the city’s core and walking maps provide a useful guide for visitors.
Keith Chandler, general manager of the Seaside Aquarium, received special recognition for his hard work, dedication, and “countless hours supporting SDDA.”
The audience rose to give Chandler a standing ovation.
Looking ahead, the association board is really focusing on a “back to basics approach, to where we first started,” Gooch said.
That includes flower baskets, wine walk and car shows, events “that really work and provide a sound foundation for the downtown area.”
The association’s budget is “the way it shoud be at the moment,” Kenneally added. “We’re looking at the events we are keeping to make them more successful than they’ve been in the past.”
What is the association’s secret to success?
“These businesses are amazing,” Kenneally said. “They really make visitors feel welcome.”