Another successful Pride event in the books

MIDDLETOWN – Before I get into the details of what has been another busy Chamber week, I would like to salute what has been a success Middletown Pride Day last weekend. The weather was glorious, the large crowds were proud and energetic, and Middletown once again pulled together to produce a wonderful event.

I want to take a moment to thank the City of Middletown, led by Mayor Ben Florsheim, our partners Pride, Wesleyan University, led by President Michael Roth, and the Russell Library, led by Ramona Burkey, the LGBTQIA+ Commission, our outstanding sponsors and supporters, the volunteers who did a great job, the chamber staff who showed their dedication and drive, all the city departments and staff who supported the event, and of course, the Assistant General Counsel of Middletown Christopher Forte, creator of Middletown Pride, for his year round work in making Middletown Pride a reality.

Middletown Pride will continue its efforts with a full month of programming for everyone. For more information, visit middletownpride.org.


The bedroom calendar is set for another big week from start to finish.

On Monday morning, our executive committee will meet at the chamber office and through virtual means, followed by the chamber’s annual meeting. This committee includes a variety of business and community leaders from various industry sectors.

On the Chamber Division front, our Durham and Middlefield Divisions will meet Wednesday morning at the Indian Springs Golf Course in Middlefield, and our Cromwell Division will meet Thursday at the Cromwell Belden Library. Also on Thursday will be a meeting of our Healthcare Council Steering Committee at 8:30 a.m. virtually.

In addition to these Chamber-specific meetings, I will be attending the YMCA Annual Meeting on Tuesday as well as the CVH Advisory Board meeting on Friday.

The final installment in our series of KeyBank workshops will take place on June 14 from 9-10:30 a.m. at the chamber office or through virtual means. This workshop, titled “Recognizing and Overcoming Unconscious Bias,” will help explore how bias works and influences our decisions and shapes our daily experiences.

I would like to thank Sandra Stanfield of Stanfield Bechtel Law for organizing this workshop, and KeyBank for continuing to offer this excellent series of workshops. To register, visit middlesexchamber.com.

It’s hard to believe, but our 25th annual Main Street Evening Cruise will return to Main Street on June 15 from 4:30-8 p.m. and trucks, and, of course, fun for the whole family.

This event, chaired by Joe Santaniello, will once again benefit Middletown’s youth programs. To learn more, please visit cruisenightonmain.com. We look forward to another great event on Main Street, Middletown!

Excitement continues to build for the Travelers Championship and our annual Travelers Championship Breakfast, taking place June 21 at 7 a.m. at the Sheraton Hartford South Hotel in Rocky Hill. This year, we look forward to welcoming 2021 PGA Tour Pro and Travelers Championship winner Harris English as our guest speaker.

Harris is an exciting player on the tour who is ready to defend his title after the record eight-hole win over Kramer Hickok at last year’s event. I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to The Travelers for once again sponsoring this event. To register for this breakfast, go to the website.

After breakfast will be our Middlesex County Career Fair at the Courtyard by Marriott in Cromwell from 10.30am to 1.30pm. Over 40 companies from across the labor market area will be attending.

The chamber is proud to partner with the Connecticut Department of Labor and Workforce Alliance on these important workforce development initiatives.

I want to take a moment to thank DOL Commissioner Dante Bartolomeo and Workforce Alliance President and CEO Bill Villano not only for their support of the Middlesex County job fair, but also for their long-standing support for workforce development in Middlesex County.

Looking ahead to the end of June, excitement is building for our 12th Annual Small Business Awards Celebration on June 29 at St. Clement’s Castle in Portland from 4:30-7 p.m. I will have more on the Small Business Awards closer to the event, but please save that date.

I’m afraid I have to end this week’s column on a sad note after the recent passing of two longtime supporters of the House and myself, Joseph Giannetti and Carmelo (Carl) Mazzotta. I have known these two great people from my days at Xavier and appreciate their endless commitment to the community as a whole.

Joe was the successful business owner of Connecticut Office Supply in Meriden, Falcon Express in Middletown, and Imperial Stationers in New Haven, as well as an active member of the Middletown Elks, a strong volunteer with St. Vincent de Paul Soup Kitchen, and many other community organizations.

Carmela Mazzotta owned Middletown Builders Supply Co. Prior to his retirement, he served on the board of directors of Farmers and Mechanics Bank and served as chairman of the loans committee. He was also chairman of the Middletown Planning and Zoning Commission and a member of the Board of Finance and Merit Rating Board.

He was also an active member of the Italian-American Civic Order, Elks, Masons, and Shriners.

I will have more on the recent passing of Carl Erlacher Sr. in my column next week.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Joe and Carl’s vast network of children, grandchildren, family and friends at this difficult time. May they all find peace knowing that these men led lives well lived, and they will be truly missed.

Larry McHugh is president of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce in Middletown.

Joseph K. Bennett