Northeast Berks Chamber's Ugly Holiday Attire Contest raises spirits

Photos courtesy of Weldon Photography Northeast Berks Chamber of Commerce Holiday Luncheon on Dec. 6 featured an ugly holiday attire contest. Gretchen Strouphar of ManPower was one of the winners.
Photos courtesy of Weldon Photography Northeast Berks Chamber of Commerce Holiday Luncheon on Dec. 6 featured an ugly holiday attire contest. Tom Roth was one of the winners.

The Northeast Berks Chamber of Chamber members spent an afternoon to “Eat, Network, & Be Merry” at the Chamber’s Holiday Luncheon Dec. 6 at the Berkleigh Golf Club Dec. 6.

“It’s become a tradition to have a lunch for the holidays,” said Chamber Executive Director Tammy Gore. “I love this group of people and they all enjoy each other. What better way to have holiday spirit than to share a lunch with some of your dearest friends.”

In the past, the holiday event featured entertainers and musicians. Members requested the event be a time to get together with friends and have more opportunity to network and talk, said Gore. To encourage networking in the holiday spirit, the chamber hosted their first Ugly Holiday Sweater, Tie or Hat Contest.

“You have to go over and talk to someone dressed like Gretchen, for instance,” said Gore.

Gretchen Strouphar of ManPower and Tom Roth, a chamber guest, were the contest winners, wearing a holiday sweater and holiday hat, respectively.

“I like to win in everything so it’s awesome to win and this is a great group,” said Strouphar. “It’s great to be here with all of these people and have your name announced in front of the crowd.”

She believes the networking and everyone being in a good mood brings people together, “maybe brings people out of their shell or out of their comfort zone.”

Gore anticipates the competition will be stiff for next year’s Ugly Holiday Attire Contest.

“This is a group of people who really support each other,” said Gore. “They have become friends over the years and they’re very welcoming to new friends coming into the organization. It’s having lunch with some of your best friends, these are people you do business with, yes, but they’re friends and they’ve built up a relationship of trust.”

Lori Luckenbill, of Fleetwood Bank, will soon to be the next Chamber Board President in January. Her goals are to keep growing the chamber and try to get more members involved.

“Unfortunately, a member only gets out of it what they are willing to put into it,” said Luckenbill. “If they don’t come to the functions and network and use us as a tool, they’re really not going to get anything out of it... You really need to use your membership.”

Luckenbill said the Holiday Luncheon is one of the chamber’s big networking events because people are not in as much of a hurry to get back to work.

“I think people really try to get to know each other and talk more,” she said.

“Chamber events are always great,” said Chamber member Kim Davis of Cynergy Associates Inc. “This time of year is particularly special because we don’t have a program, we just have an hour and half of networking which I think makes it all much better.”

When asked how this event raises holiday spirit, Davis said with a laugh, “Have you looked around at the ugly sweaters?” She said the contest brings out the spirit of the whole event.

“Holidays are all about getting together with friends at the chamber,” said Scot Guldin of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

The networking event also offers the chance to make new friends at the chamber.

“This time of year everybody’s in a good spirit so it’s neat to meet people under those circumstances,” said Guldin.

About the Author

Lisa Mitchell

Lisa Mitchell is the editor of The Kutztown Patriot and Managing Editor of Berks-Mont Newspapers. Reach the author at lmitchell@berksmontnews.com or follow Lisa on Twitter: @kutztownpatriot.