Downtown Inc. honored businesses, organizations and individuals who advocate for Downtown York at its 23rd Annual Downtown First Awards at Keystone Kidspace Thursday.
In addition, Jane Conover and Jack Kay were presented with the Louis J. & Jody D. Appell Lifetime Achievement Award, honoring their legacy and lifetime commitment to the York community.
“It is always a privilege to honor and celebrate the individuals, organizations, and businesses that make Historically Edgy Downtown York the great place that it is, and this year’s event was extra special as we celebrated the lifetime achievements of two of Downtown York’s biggest advocates and forces for good, Jane Conover and Jack Kay,” said Jonathan Desmarais, director, Downtown Inc. The 23rd Annual Downtown First Awards winners are:
Outstanding Large Business: White Rose Restaurant Group, with restaurants and venues such as the White Rose Bar & Grill, Rockfish Public House, Bridgewater Public House, and Valencia Ballroom, has provided culinary and event experience for all ages and interests for 90 years in Downtown York.
Outstanding WeCo District Business/Organization: Caraballo Sisters whose owner, Justine Caraballo, brings quality Puerto Rican foods to customers at Penn Market.
Outstanding Market District Business/Organization: Refillism, a relatively new addition to the Downtown York business community, provides service and a retail experience.
Outstanding Royal Square District Business/Organization: The Dark Parlour, owned by Lauren Rae, brings alternative lifestyles, histories, and collectibles that explore the human condition. As the organizer of Fang Around, a Royal Square district-wide event, Dark Parlour promotes inclusion, and acceptance, and showcases local merchants, musicians, and artists of varying nature.
Outstanding Nonprofit Organization: Keystone Kidspace serves children and their families through the renovation of an underutilized historic building into a modern center of creativity, exploration, and fun.
Better York Appell Beautification Award: Rich Reilly, Attorney at Law whose building on Philadelphia Street serves as a welcoming corner into the city.
Outstanding Individual: Jason Phillips, a downtown dweller who volunteers his time to provide insights as a local real estate professional or serving as a tour guide for Downtown Inc’s Sweetest Pint Tasting Tours or as a Downtown Ambassador.
The Change Maker Award: Vlonda Kearse, a lifelong educator with York City School District at both Hannah Penn Middle School and Willian Penn Senior High School, began volunteering with the York College Community Opportunity Scholarship Program (YCCOSP) in 2015 with their Summer Jumpstart initiative. She’s an active member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and Cornerstone Baptist Church where her husband Rev. Dr. Mark Kearse is pastor.
“This year’s event was a true celebration of innovation and dedication in our downtown, especially by honoring Jane and Jack, two individuals who truly have transformed the fabric of our community and left a legacy for decades to come,” said President & CEO of the York County Economic Alliance Kevin Schreiber.
In total, over 100 nominations were received across the eight categories. The winners for each category were selected from three finalists.