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Lodi Chamber of Commerce hosts circus-themed showcase at Hutchins Street Square to welcome new members

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Posted: Wednesday, March 24, 2010 12:00 am

Sugar-topped funnel cakes were savored, balloon animals and hats were created and members of Lodi's Chamber of Commerce dressed as clowns Tuesday night for the Lodi Chamber of Commerce's business showcase.

The celebration was the first of its kind for the chamber and served as a welcoming party of sorts for the 152 new members the organization recruited during its aggressive membership drive late last year.

Representatives of more than 80 local businesses crowded into Hutchins Street Square's Kirst Hall to network with one another and introduce themselves to the community. Many of the vendors and chamber directors wore vibrantly-colored clown wigs or painted their faces. Pat Patrick, president and CEO of the chamber, donned a clown suit with matching face paint. Carol Farron, community development director for Lodi Memorial Hospital, said it wasn't the first time she'd seen Patrick wear a costume for a chamber event.

"For their annual meeting after the chamber had returned from China, he wore a pair of Chinese pajamas he picked up while over there," she said.

Patrick also carried a small horn with him that he used to playfully honk at people when they walked past him.

While participants spoke highly of the event, the celebration began ominously when an old-fashioned popcorn machine burst into flames and set off the hall's fire alarm.

"I walked in and smelt burnt popcorn," said Samantha Gaskin, director of marketing for Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Lathrop. "Then the thing burst into flames before it was put out. The whole thing lasted maybe two minutes."

The fire was put out with a fire extinguisher and the smoke cleared out of the hall after the doors were opened.

The fire department responded, but the small fire was already put out and the popcorn machine was being loaded into a pickup truck by the time they arrived. Although the smell of burned popcorn lingered for a half-hour after the fire was put out, the rest of the evening's festivities went on without incident.

"It's my first themed trade show," said Gaskin. "I really like the stilt-walker."

The Lathrop hotel is a recent addition to the Lodi Chamber of Commerce. Gaskin said it was important for the Lathrop hotel to join the chamber because they are in a nearby community and it helps spread awareness about the property. Like many vendors Tuesday night, she was raffling off a prize related to the business. Those who dropped off their business cards could win a free night's stay at the hotel.

While Gaskin's attire didn't embrace the event's circus theme, other vendors painted their faces or wore outfits similar to Patrick's.

"They told us to do something fun," said Jammie Widmer, director of sales for Onsite Electronics Recycling. "So I went to Michael's and bought face-painting supplies."

Widmer's face paint included a heart on her left cheek and decorative lines across her forehead.

The chamber's event was successful because it was open to the public and in the evening, she said. Since people have a difficult time leaving work early or during the middle of the day, hosting a business showcase in the evening enables the biggest number of people to attend as possible, Widmer said. The atmosphere was also enjoyable, Widmer said.

"It's something that's not boring so the kids can come and it's fun for families," she said.

Farron said Tuesday's event was good for the community because it brightens people's spirits during a difficult economic time.

"People are ready for fun," she said, adding that the chamber outdid itself decorating the hall and selling the circus theme.

"Kirst Hall has never looked like this before," she said.

Contact reporter Jordan Guinn at jordang@lodinews.com.

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  • posted at 10:01 pm on Wed, Mar 24, 2010.


    What does the US Chamber of Commerce have to do with the Lodi Chamber? They are different entities, run by different people, and are not connected.As for union members, I'm sure there are plenty. Lodi's largest employers are all members, and many of them have unions.So instead of asking misleading questions and throwing out irrelevant links, why not actually contribute something useful?

  • posted at 4:19 pm on Wed, Mar 24, 2010.


    Wow, observer, did you lose your place in the pecking order? Angry, are we? The other city of Lodi cheerleaders take your pom poms away? Read some of those links posted about corruption and the chamber of commerce and then you can come crying on these blogs about what a great job they're doing, along with your buddies on the council. ROFLMAO. At least two more years of budget cuts coming and you and the boys are still convinced the money fairy is coming to Lodi. Good night, my frustrated friend.

  • posted at 3:40 pm on Wed, Mar 24, 2010.


    I'm so grateful that we can spend time whining about clowns.

  • posted at 3:24 pm on Wed, Mar 24, 2010.


    Observer, er reality, you must've been one of the clowns. You're silly with only your questions and nothing else of content. There are thousands of websites that dwell on the corruption of the chamber of commerce and hundreds of thousands of links and hundreds of thousands of links from those links. Or are you afraid to see for yourself?

  • posted at 1:31 pm on Wed, Mar 24, 2010.


    pressure you seem to have a feel for this issue. what are the answers to your questions?

  • posted at 11:21 am on Wed, Mar 24, 2010.


    I think it would be worth it to go just to see Pat Patricks and the rest of the mob in clown noses!

  • posted at 10:49 am on Wed, Mar 24, 2010.


    They should have held this circus at Silly Hall (City Hall). Or better yet, cancel a council meeting and hold this in its place. Same characters, same amount of business being done. At least we would get a balloon animal or some cotton candy before we were bent over. They need a popcorn machine in Carnegie Forum!!!!

  • posted at 8:54 am on Wed, Mar 24, 2010.


    Here's a starter:http://green.venturebeat.com/2009/10/08/is-the-us-chamber-of-commerce-corrupt-and-why-it-matters/right from Fox news:http://green.venturebeat.com/2009/10/08/is-the-us-chamber-of-commerce-corrupt-and-why-it-matters/

  • posted at 8:39 am on Wed, Mar 24, 2010.


    reality, how many union entities are chamber members? Why doesn't the chamber urge their members to e-verify their employees? I state, IMO, they are a fan of cheap labor. Or are you observer? Need hundreds of websites showing the corruption the chamber has proven itself capable of?

  • posted at 8:34 am on Wed, Mar 24, 2010.


    reality, how many union entities are chamber members? Why doesn't the chamber urge their members to e-verify their employees? I state, IMO, they are a fan of cheap labor. Or are you observer?

  • posted at 4:38 am on Wed, Mar 24, 2010.


    pressure please elaborate. where or when has the chamber advocated for low wages, non union and undocumented workers. i would like to know

  • posted at 4:20 am on Wed, Mar 24, 2010.


    Journey, it's not the clown, but the possibly scary person masquerading in that costume that would scare me. LOL

  • posted at 4:19 am on Wed, Mar 24, 2010.


    You mean Mr. Patrick didn't hold this event at Wine$Roses? It's time the chamber used Hutchins for all of their events. It is a great event, although I don't like the low wage, anti-union and hiring of undocumented workers that the chambers of commerce seem to so avidly support. I was wondering if there are any organized, union businesses or corporations that belong to their organization?

  • posted at 4:05 am on Wed, Mar 24, 2010.


    Looks like great fun, to me! But am I the only one in the world that considers clowns to be rather scary? :-)



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