Lehigh Valley

Chubby Checker makes surprise appearance at Chamber meeting

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce held its 100th annual meeting on Thursday at the Sands Bethlehem Event Center, and the group's energetic CEO Tony Iannelli did not disappoint in the program's opening minutes.

Iannelli, known for theatrical stunts, started the event dressed in jeans and a white T-shirt, singing “The Twist” on stage while Chubby Checker's classic 60s song of the same name blasted overhead.

Moments later, Iannelli introduced the actual Chubby Checker, who took over singing duties from the colorful CEO.

During the nearly two-hour program, which included videos, speeches and awards highlighting business accomplishments from the year, the focus returned to Iannelli several times.

This is his 20th year as head of the Chamber, an anniversary highlighted with a tribute video and presentation of an award by Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation CEO Don Cunningham.

“I first met Tony when I was a young mayor here in Bethlehem,” said Cunningham, “and he was the new energetic head of the Allentown Chamber of Commerce.”

Cunningham went on to tell the story of how Iannelli executed a plan to merge several local organizations in the area into the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber that functions today.

“My work is my life, and I thank you for letting me do this,” Iannelli told the crowd of business leaders after Cunningham's introduction.

Two “Milestone Awards” were given out during the event, the first presented by First Northern Bank & Trust EVP Mike Harleman to WFMZ-TV President & General Manager Barry Fisher. The award acknowledged the 40th anniversary of WFMZ-TV here in the Lehigh Valley.

“To watch the growth not just at the station but in the Lehigh Valley is just stunning,” said Fisher.

The second “Milestone Award” went to Allentown's Civic Theatre, celebrating 90 years in the city.

Alvin H. Butz CEO Greg Butz presented the honor to Civic Theatre's Dr. Barry Glassman and Sharon Glassman.

“We are beyond honored to be recognized as a cultural institution worthy of this recognition,” said Dr. Glassman, after giving details about the $5.5 million dollar capital campaign currently underway to refurbish Civic's 19th Street Theatre.

Lehigh Valley Partnership was given the “Organization of the Year” award, presented by Iannelli and accepted by BB&T President & CEO Scott Fainor, who appeared onstage with PPL President Bill Spence, retired PPL CEO Bill Hecht, and Duggan & Marcon CEO Charlie Marcon.

“The Lehigh Valley Partnership was established in 1985,” said Fainor. “They set a vision out, a mission statement at that time that we still follow today.”

Anne Baum, VP of Lehigh Valley Capital BlueCross, was also recognized as the “Volunteer of the Year”, and was presented the award by Dorota Gasienica-Kozak, Chair of the Lehigh Valley Chamber Board of Governors.

“All of you are leaders and you drive the Valley forward,” she said to her fellow award recipients. “You make this such a wonderful place to live, work, and play.”

Three Community Partner awards were also handed out during the event, the first presented to Nancy and Robert Treskot by John Hayes, EVP & Chief Lending Officer of New Tripoli Bank. Nancy Treskot is currently chairperson of the Venture Group, among many other notable resume highlights, and Robert Treskot is a tax collector and active among several organizations in Walnutport.

The second award went to David Heintzelman, owner of Heintzelman Funeral Home, and was presented by the Vice President and Regional Manager of BB&T Ricky Gower. The third and final Community Partner award went to Easton City Administrator Luis Campos, who was presented the honor by Victor Salicetti, President of AmericaVen and Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Chair.

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