CALEXICO – Recognizing Calexico residents who have contributed to the well-being of the city, the Calexico Chamber of Commerce held its 22nd Annual Chamber Dinner and Lava Lamp Awards Thursday evening at the Carmen Durazo Cultural Arts Center.
The Lava Lamp Awards were created in 1995 by Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Hildy Carrillo who was seeking a way to honor innovative entrepreneurs, individuals or businesses who keep Calexico moving forward, and people who love their community by doing special things without the need of being recognized.
Carrillo reminisced, “In 1995, I remember running around taking pictures, writing stories for my job and noticed people meandering around that weren’t at the forefront of anything, but they were out there making Calexico a better place and without any fans there, no selfies, no air conditioning… They were out there doing things and I thought, ‘What a great way to honor people’.”
In the border city, the prestigious Lava Lamp Awards are synonymous with the Academy Awards and have become a signature event for Calexico. The winners are kept a secret until the very night of the awards — no one knows who will be receiving one, not even the recipient.
“Those who receive this award are not necessarily powerful people,” said Carrillo. “They are people who put themselves out there who just do things because they love their community.”
Daniel Romero, a customs broker of Calexico and IID Division 4 candidate, was the first recipient of the Lava Lamp award.
“Romero is a serious business owner who provides employment, educational experience, and networking possibilities to those on his staff,” said Carrillo. “He is a serious community member who sees beyond a limited space who knows our (Calexico) history and wants to build a pathway for a better future, and is a true pillar to our community.”
Romero said he was speechless and floored to receive such an honor.
“I have been involved with the community for many years and striving toward doing the right thing and doing what’s best for the city of Calexico,” said Romero. “Everything I do for the community is from the heart.”
The second Lava Lamp Award was presented to the Heffernan Memorial District board members composed of Norma Apodaca, Sylvia Bernal, Gloria Grijalva, Rosie Fernandez and Maria Camacho.
The Heffernan board members received the Lava Lamp from Heffernan Memorial District General Counsel Eduardo Rivera who said they were the group who was going to make Calexico great again.
“These have fought for the well-being of this community for a long, long, long time and will continue to do what is best for the city,” said Rivera.
The Heffernan board members also received certificates of recognition from the offices of Congressman Juan Vargas, Sen. Ben Hueso and Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia.
But the surprises did not end there. Carrillo herself was recognized by Calexico entrepreneur Angel Esparza who dimmed the lights and played a short film where city residents, business owners and city officials spoke of how Carrillo’s spunky charisma has impacted their lives and the city.
Carrillo, being a woman from the ’60s who loves that era, received a bouquet of sunflowers from Esparza who also brought out a polaroid camera and took pictures with Carrillo, reminding her of her childhood.
Additionally, outgoing Calexico Chamber President Daniel Fitzgerald welcomed incoming president Fernando Zavala, who was elected unanimously by the chamber board.[envira-gallery id=”80213″]