What began as a way to engage members has become an institution at the Omaha Valley Scottish Rite. The Valley hosted the 3rd annual awards dinner on Monday, December 21st, recognizing those who have made a significant contribution to the Valley over the past year as well as a few not-so-serious awards - the famous rubber chickens.
Hosted by the Lodge of Perfection and emceed by Chris Carter, 32° KCCH and the 2015 Lodge of Perfection officers, the evening began with cocktails in the lounge followed by a fantastic dinner prepared by the Culinary Masters. 163 guests enjoyed freshly roasted beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, salad, and rolls, with ice cream and cake afterward.
John Maxell, 33°, General Secretary-elect, got everyone in the holiday spirit with a brief clip from Peanuts, with the character Linus explaining the meaning of Christmas.
James "Hambone" Sklenar, 32° KCCH received the award for best actor as Preceptor in the 30th degree. Chris Nigro was recognized as director for the 9th/10th degree, which was well received in Guthrie, Oklahoma earlier this year. Presenting awards on behalf of the Royal Order of the Duck, Jim Wolfe, 33° recounted how Chris coordinated the moving of props, costumes, and supplies to Guthrie and had no modesty in directing KCCHs, Inspectors General, and even SGIGs to move, set-up, and arrange the stage. Scott Reuman, 32° KCCH was recognized for always being on-hand to set up the theater and manage sound and lights for rental groups like the Youth Ballet or Miss Nebraska awards pageants.
Charles V. Sederstrom, Jr., 33° recognized Scott Reuman and Tom Begley, 32° KCCH for their leadership and service over the past year, including Tom's role in putting together the new 25th degree team with members from North Bend Lodge #118.
Curt Edic, 33°, presented two awards, first recognizing both Rob Corsaro, 32° and Marnie Corsaro being an engaged new Mason of less than 5 years. Rob has managed the KSA gig list, served as a KSA officer, a line officer in the Lodge of Perfection, undertaken degree work, and serves on a number of committees. He also recognized James Beard, 32° and Bill Craig, 33° for all the work they do throughout the year keeping the building in working order and tip-top shape, and joking that the two men who should least be up a 20 foot ladder can often be found perched precariously on tall ladders! He also thanked Jim and Bill for "fixing things that probably didn't need fixing!"
Brenda Coleman presented the Ladies Group award to Kristi Vandergriff for all she has done throughout the year, including service on the Friends of Scottish Rite committee and the Ladies Group events.
Armel MacDonald, 32° KCCH presented three awards, recognizing Larry Jacobsen with the mentorship award, for always being available to provide advice and support for brethren. Ron Stites was recognized for his leadership, serving on numerous committees, Grand Lodge, and providing guidance for many Masonic organizations.
Of course, the infamous rubber chicken awards were given out during the evening, as well. Chris Carter brought home the "Neil Diamond - Forever in Blue Jeans" chicken for his "highly inappropriate" appearances in shirt and tie, with blue jeans and sneakers. Tom Begley won his third consecutive rubber chicken for the "most interesting use of a prop" award, with the details behind this award being murky and perhaps best lost to history. Last, Paul Rutherford won the "Saturday Night Fever" chicken for his innovative dance moves.
As always, everyone enjoyed the highly improvised scripted evening. The Christmas awards have quickly become a favorite event of the year and a great evening to look back on what we have accomplished throughout 2015.