Ah yes…. how many galas have we all been to where we get dressed up to eat the obligatory chicken dinner, applaud for people we don’t know and keep checking our watch to see if we can leave early? Well, friends, this certainly wasn’t the case with the Aventura Police Department’s recent Employee Awards Gala held at the iconic Indian Creek Country Club.
From the moment the invitation arrived, complete with a huge red parrot inviting guests to the Caribbean-themed event, we knew this one was going to be special. A torrential rainstorm didn’t stop about 180 Aventura police employees and guests from showing up for this annual gala to honor Aventura Police officers, civilians and volunteers. Steel drum music by Eddie & Company greeted guests and photos of everyone in their island- wear best, were taken by Davide De Pas Picture and Miami Headshot & Portrait. From there, the hors d’oeuvres and bar, complete with coconut drink holders, kept everyone networking and in great spirits. The silent auction tables were open for bidding, and everything from hotel stays to an autographed Dan Marino football were up for bid.
Chief Bryan Pegues opened the program by introducing Joe Dippell, who invited and helped sponsor the APD to Indian Creek Country Club for the gala. Pegues said, “It’s an honor to be here tonight representing the fine Aventura Police Department and acknowledging the hard work that our employees perform every day. The challenges of law enforcement have grown more difficult in recent times and the responsibilities placed upon us more complex. But here in Aventura, we continue to be the benchmark of excellence as we successfully rise up to meet the demands of our profession. And now, enjoy…. this evening is a celebration! “The event sponsors were thanked and recognized: Prestige Auto Transport Towing & Recovery; CJ Communications International; Vi at Aventura; Toyota of North Miami VIP Sales; Veronica L. Strauss; Transcore; AC Hotels; Parks Advocacy Group; Greater Miami/Miami Beach Police Foundation and Harris.
Special guests were introduced, including Aventura Mayor Enid Weisman, Vice Mayor Dr. Linda Marks, Commissioners Denise Landman, Gladys Mezrahi and Howard Weinberg; former Aventura Vice Mayors Billy Joel and Michael Stern; and Aventura Marketing Council/Chamber of Commerce Chairman Gary Pyott.
And then began the 2019 awards presentations. As each nominee’s name was called, the officers throughout the room showed their tremendous support and respect by calling out the nominees’ names, each table doing a ‘drum roll’, dancing and applauding wildly. The winners in each category were: Ofc. Helen Morrison and Ofc. Manny Gonzalez, Thomas Ribel “I Care About My Community Award”; Ofc. Christopher Alfaro, Steven Steinberg ‘Law Enforcement Professional Frontier Award”; Officer John Tiley, “Rookie of the Year Award”; Records Clerk Mary Smith “Civilian of the Year Award”; and Officer Chase Bonville, “Officer of the Year Award”.
Pegues introduced APD Executive Assistant Rita Noa, “…. who is the one really responsible for this wonderful event…from the table decorations to the door prizes and auction to the entertainment?” And to a huge round of applause, Noa took the podium, and started drawing tickets for the many, many door prizes to follow.
All conversation stopped and heads turned as 16 youngsters ages 9 to 22 from Sean’s Dance Factory began a breath-taking, heart-pounding hip hop dance performance, joined at the end by Ofc. Christopher Gatti. With incredible precision, they showed why their rhythm, beats and groove have been featured in Chris Brown’s music videos, on-stage performances with Justin Bieber and for 15 years running at the Kravis Center with their Big Bang Show productions. Internationally known choreographer, Sean Green, choreographer for the Miami Heat dancers, is owner and CEO of Sean’s Dance Factory. His students were crowned winners of the 2017 World Dance Competition in New York. After that fabulous performance that had guests dancing in their aisles, Miami Party DJ took over to provide dance music until just before midnight.
Noa said, “On my final email to the guests, I said “Bring your appetite, dancing shoes and great personalities…be prepared to have a FABULOUS TIME”, and they all did. Weeks of long hours, numerous phone calls to sponsors, shopping and looking over every detail; specially to see it all come together and watch every guest have a fabulous time, it was worth more than I could have imagined. I want to thank EVERY SINGLE sponsor, because without them this event would not be possible. I want to thank everyone that showed up, despite the horrible weather. I especially want to thank my Boss, Chief Pegues…”Thank you, Boss, for allowing me to do my thing, for allowing me to throw a CELEBRATION like no other.” Stay tuned, we are already working on next year’s theme.”
For more information, visit CityofAventura.com/AventuraPolice