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Chamber set for banquet

Eat, drink, and be merry. And remember this year's theme - "Stars Fell on Alabama."

That's what the Andalusia Chamber of Commerce is wishing for the attendants of its 81st Annual Banquet, Tuesday, Jan. 27, at 7 p.m. at the Kiwanis Center, with special guests including Governor Bob Riley, House Speaker Seth Hammett, Director of the Alabama Industrial Development Office Neil Wade, and Senator Jimmy Holley.

According to Bette Reynolds, executive vice president of the chamber, the reservations have already nearly reached the goal.

"We're about 10 tickets short of our goal (as of Wednesday), with approximately 500 tickets sold," Reynolds said.

"The best way to cut down on confusion was to take reservations," she added. "We also have color-coded seats to correspond to the tickets."

According to Reynolds, during the previous years of hosting the banquet, the chamber has tweaked some problems to make the night go more smoothly.

Instead of lining the rows of chairs and tables, there will be good viewing from any spot, according to Reynolds.

"I don't think anyone has to worry about having a bad seat," she said. "All will have a clear access."

Reynolds said the governor will have to leave early, and he will speak first at the banquet.

Before Riley's speech, the call to order, including the invocation and Pledge of Allegiance will follow.

According to Reynolds, attendants will then sing "Stars Fell on Alabama."

"That's the theme for this year," she said. "There will be red and white banners and decorations everywhere (in honor of the state flag)."

The food will be catered by Tabby D's and will be served "within 15 or 20 minutes of the introduction of the head table (guests of honor)."

Following the meal, awards to outstanding members of the chamber and community will be handed out.

"The appreciation ceremony will include the student of the year, Teacher of the Year, the Community Service Award - which will be kept secret, and the Distinguished Service Award - this is the biggie, also kept secret," she said.

Following the awards, the passing of the gavel from current Chamber President Patricia Blanton to incoming President Wem Mellown will take place.

The ceremony, as a whole, will be "a culmination of the activities for 2003."

"Many of the awards were not earned in just a year; they could take many years," she said.

"The (banquet) is timely and enjoyable. This is the best feature of the community," she added.

Tickets, priced at $20 for adults and $10 for students in grades 6-12, are still available through the chamber. A new chamber member directory will also be passed out at the banquet.