Hey Vista! Did you feel it? On Friday April 21 at 6 pm there was a rather large decline in the population of Vista. Why would this happen? Well it happened because many Vistans were attending the 6th annual “Heroes of Vista” in the ballroom at the Sheraton Carlsbad Resort. Yes, they were celebrating Vista… in Carlsbad.
The facilities at the Sheraton Carlsbad resort are world class and the large ballroom easily holds the hundreds of Vistans that attended the event. Incoming Chair for the Chamber of Commerce, Amber Ter-Vrugt, says Heroes of Vista is a “celebration of a collaborative effort to foster a community where we can safely live, work, and play”. The collaboration of this evening gala was with a partnership between the Vista Chamber of Commerce and the Vista Education Foundation.
As I arrived, there was a long line of attendees checking in. Over the heads of people in front of me I received a friendly wave from Mayor Judy Ritter and a warm smile from Cynthia Delgado, the current North County Celtic Queen. Ahead of me I saw Chuck Rabel, a previous recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2015 Heroes of Vista. Standing next to one of the entry doors greeting people was Margo Cobian.
Chamber Ambassadors Paula Waring and Ray Wilkerson also gave friendly welcomes. In addition, I had some nice conversations with Art Vargas, Janice Klafehn, Paula Nix, Elizabeth Jaka, Judy Pantazo, Don and Nancy B. Jones, Jack and Sharon Larimer, Beth Carter Duncan, Dr. Devon Vodicka, Carol Huerra, Debra Sallaz, Brad Peterson, Danny Villasenor, Matt Koumaras, Garry and Julie Garrettson, Ron Briseno, Steve Harrington, Cathy Witschger, John and Holly Aguilera, Joe and Jennifer Green, and Mayor Judy Lynn Ritter. It was a festive and jovial mood that lit up the big ballroom prior to the start of the ceremonies for the Heroes of Vista.
The Young Marines of North County provided the Color Guard and presented the colors.
The Rancho Buena Vista High School Sax Ensemble entertained the crowd with their smooth music.
The 2017 Heroes of Vista Honorees were:
- Educator of the Year for Arts – Roger Royster from Vista Magnet Middle School
- Non-Profit of the Year – Boys and Girls Club of Vista
- VUSD Classified Employee of the Year – Velia Huerta
- Small Business of the Year – Open Source Maker Labs
- Educator of the Year – Andrew Driffill from Hannalei Elementary
- Fire Fighter of the Year – Inspector Mike McFadden
- Sheriff Deputy of the Year – Kai Bowman
- New Business of the Year – Bear Roots Brewing Co.
- Educator of the Year STEAM – Ramiro Santana
- Large Business of the Year – Tri-City Medical Center
- Education Administrator of the Year – Laura Smith from Casita Magnet for Math and Technology
- Businessperson of the Year – Mehdi Chitgari of Classic Chariots
In addition to these awards, special recognition was given to Paul Campos for his Community Service. The Vista Historical Society and the San Diego County Credit Union were acknowledged for 30 years of Chamber of Commerce membership. SDG&E, the Vista Community Clinic and McDonalds of Vista were congratulated for 35 years of Chamber of Commerce. And last but not least, The Boys and Girls Club of Vista was commended for their 45 years of Chamber of Commerce membership.
The highlight of the evening came when Kathy Brombacher was awarded the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award. She was honored for over 32 years of artistic Leadership beginning in 1981. Brombacher, a former theater educator at Vista High School, was the passionate visionary behind the Moonlight Amphitheater and the AVO Playhouse. Previously Brombacher received the San Diego Theater Critics Circle Award for “Theatrical Trailblazer” and the Patte Awards’ “Shiley Lifetime Achievment Award” for Theatrical Excellence.
Throughout the evening as the best in Vista was announced and the 2017 Heroes of Vista were named. Tables full of Vista heroes applauded and cheered. Yes many of the Vistans in attendance are people who volunteer and work to make Vista the best place to live, work, and play. Maybe someday Vista will be able to host these awards in Vista.
Per Chamber CEO, Bret Schanzenbach, “The Chamber was pleased to have our largest crowd ever come together to honor heroes in all facets of our community: public service, education, and business. We love putting this event together for Vista and helping to support future leaders.”