Berlin’s success cool for entire region
So this is probably going to be the last week I’ll get to say the name “Cazenovia” as in the town finishing second behind Berlin in the Budget Travel Magazine coolest small town contest.
Berlin and its Mayor Gee Williams wanted this win badly. Along with the County, the region and even Governor Martin O’Malley, it did an amazing job of spreading the word to vote.
On a celebratory Monday at the Burley Oak Brewing Company in Berlin, midnight couldn’t come fast enough. That was the cutoff time for voting. When all was said and done, Berlin had garnered some 28 percent of 137,819 votes among 15 finalists.
I have known Mayor Williams since 1974, that’s 40 years, when he was my editor at the Eastern Shore Times. On Monday, I saw him with a grateful heart and deep feeling of love for his community.
He said that winning this contest was in some ways more difficult than the political races he’s been in, because it wasn’t just about himself. It was about the entire town. Williams wanted the town to win, to feel great about itself.
This was, afterall a Berlin, that had to deal with the November tragedy of one of its children killed, his brother seriously injured after being hit by an unmarked state police vehicle. Two weeks ago, the community’s safety committee reported to the Town Council that improvements, endorsed by the State Highway Administration, were well on the way.
I think the Budget Travel contest was great for the people of Berlin and is going to be even better once the town and county marketing strategic plans are put in place to take full advantage of this local, state, national and international recognition. I write international, because the town’s connections in Berlin, Germany resulted in votes.
Even if Berlin had finished second or third in the voting, I get the feeling that Berlin is well on its way to something even bigger and better. I don’t know exactly what that is or means. I get that feeling when I attend town council meetings. Council members, the mayor and Berlin’s department directors are on the same page. There is an air of professionalism in the council chambers. Answers are always available, because the directors know what is going on in their departments and in the town.
On Monday night, it was nice to see at the Burley Oak Brewing Company, so many young adults who were really into the race to be coolest. Mayor Williams was radiant with pride. And hugs were plentiful.
“A hug is a handshake in Berlin,” said Williams.
Something else, Cazenovia’s Mayor Kurt Wheeler is a wonderful, highly professional person. He was quick to send congrats to Williams and to the people of Berlin. Over the phone, he was filled with pride that his beloved town finished a prestigious second. Williams said last week that both towns were winners. I think that is a reflection on their mayors, the people who run their cities and the communities themselves.
It will be interesting to see how this feather in Berlin’s cap will fit as the town, like Ocean City, gets ready for the tourist season to begin again.
One thing for sure, this was a win-win. It will be good for Berlin, Ocean City and the entire lower shore.