WENATCHEE — Pickle Papers, Performance Footwear and Firehouse Pet Shop were among the businesses honored Thursday at the Wenatchee Downtown Association’s annual appreciation dinner.

This year’s theme was “Resiliency, Resource and Recovery,” recognizing those whose efforts stood out during “a difficult 2020,” as WDA Executive Director Linda Haglund put it. Nominations for the awards came from community members who submitted stories of exceptional, above-and-beyond service.

Awards were presented in eight categories:

Above & Beyond Awards:

  • Firehouse Pet Shop, Performance Footwear, Pickle Papers

Unstoppable Award:

  • The Original Children’s Shop, La Vi En Coffee Bar & Bakery

Preservation & Restoration Award:

  • Firefly, for renovation of the Conrad Rose Mansion; Curt and Kathy Gavin, for renovation of the historic Miller Building

Outgoing Board Member Recognition:

  • Russ Speidel

Local Heroes Award:

  • Tumbleweed Shop & Studio

Community Resource Award:

  • Bruce Beckett, owner of The Beckett Group. Beckett is the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce lobbyist who helped the business community stay connected to the ever-changing pandemic guidelines.

Heart of Downtown Award:

  • Benj and Kelsey Dew

Spirit of Downtown:

  • Meredith Mills Hilger, the WDA’s program and event director. She is leaving the WDA after five years of service, planning to start her own consulting business.

The event, sponsored by Dave and Sandy Gellatly, was held at the Wenatchee Convention Center, the first sit-down dinner served there in more than a year because of the pandemic, Haglund said.

“It helped bring a bit of ‘normal’ back as we all try to navigate to recovery from last year,” she said. “The ones who attended totally embraced the opportunity to reconnect and celebrate the downtown and true community efforts for survival from the challenges of last year.”

The awards came as a surprise to the recipients and were accompanied by stories submitted by the community of exceptional effort to accommodate customers and visitors within the difficult challenges that COVID brought, Haglund said.

“We could also tell the stories of organizations like the Regional Port Authority and how they changed their work load to include facilitating grants to small businesses last year. It was truly an inspirational evening. Hope abounds,” she said.