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Downtown Inc Announces 2023 Downtown First Award Winners

Aug 11, 2023 | Blog

Downtown Inc is pleased to announce the winners of the 23rd Annual Downtown First Awards, held at Keystone Kidspace on the evening of Thursday, August 10, 2023. The winners from each category represent exceptional businesses, organizations, and individuals who have put Downtown York first, through their commitments of time, advocacy, and resources.

In addition, Jane Conover and Jack Kay were presented with the Louis J. & Jody D. Appell Lifetime Achievement Award, honoring their embodiment of Mr. and Mrs. Appell’s legacy and lifetime commitment to the York community. Click here to read more about Jane and Jack.

The event was made possible through the sponsorship of The Glatfelter Agency.

The 23rd Annual Downtown First Awards winners celebrate individuals, businesses, and organizations in eight categories:

Outstanding Large Business Presented by Susquehanna Real Estate LP

White Rose Restaurant Group: With restaurants and venues such as the White Rose Bar & Grill, Rockfish Public House, Bridgewater Public House, and Valencia Ballroom, the White Rose Restaurant Group has provided culinary and event experience for all ages and interests for 90 years in Downtown York.

Outstanding WeCo District Business/Organization Presented by Stock and Leader, Attorneys at Law

Caraballo Sisters: Owner, Justine Caraballo has a passion for cooking and bringing quality Puerto Rican foods to her loyal customers at Penn Market. Open every market day, Justine caters her menu to the cravings of her customers, a practice that pays off as she often sells out and has grown her online presence.

Outstanding Market District Business/Organization Presented by CGA Law Firm

Refillism: As a relatively new addition to the Downtown York business community, Refillism provides both service and a retail experience that is unmatched in Central PA. In addition to providing educational and retail opportunities for zero-waste lifestyles, Refillism also proudly supports and collaborates with many local businesses.

Outstanding Royal Square District Business/Organization Presented by Traditions Bank

The Dark Parlour: Owner, Lauren Rae operates the only obscurities parlour in York County, bringing a refreshing outlook and insight to alternative lifestyles, histories, and collectibles that explore the human condition. As the organizer of Fang Around, a Royal Square district-wide event, they continue to promote inclusion, and acceptance, and showcase local merchants, musicians, and artists of varying nature. 

Outstanding Nonprofit Organization Presented by Shipley Energy

Keystone Kidspace: Serving as an invaluable asset to thousands of York children and their families, Keystone Kidspace embodies the best of the Historically Edgy spirit through the renovation of an underutilized historic building into a modern center of creativity, exploration, and fun, while making it affordable to all regardless of income.

Better York Appell Beautification Award Presented by Better York

Rich Reilly, Attorney at Law: Sitting on Philadelphia Street, Rich Reilly’s building serves as a beautiful, welcoming corner into the city. From his planters to his new outdoor seating to his bird feeders, Attorney Riley is always cleaning up, watering plants, and taking pride in his corner to ensure its cheerful welcome to the city.

Outstanding Individual Presented by PeoplesBank, A Codorus Valley Company

Jason Phillips: As a committed downtown dweller, Jason is always eager to share about his love of Downtown York. He frequently volunteers his time to provide insights as a local real estate professional or serving as a tour guide for Downtown Inc’s Sweetest Pint Tasting Tours or as a Downtown Ambassador.

The Change Maker Award Presented by C.S. Davidson, Inc.

Vlonda Kearse: She has been a lifelong educator with York City School District at both Hannah Penn Middle School and Willian Penn Senior High School, and began volunteering with the York College Community Opportunity Scholarship Program (YCCOSP) in 2015 with their Summer Jumpstart initiative. She’s an active member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and Cornerstone Baptist Church where her husband Rev. Dr. Mark Kearse is pastor. Both organizations are dedicated to serving the needs of the York community.

In recognizing the achievement of the eight winners of the 2023 Downtown First Awards, Jonathan Desmarais, shares, “It is always a privilege to honor and celebrate the individuals, organizations, and businesses that make Historically Edgy Downtown York the great place that it is, and this year’s event was extra special as we celebrated the lifetime achievements of two of Downtown York’s biggest advocates and forces for good, Jane Conover and Jack Kay.” Echoing these sentiments, President & CEO of the York County Economic Alliance, Kevin Schreiber shares, “This year’s event was a true celebration of innovation and dedication in our downtown, especially by honoring Jane and Jack, two individuals who truly have transformed the fabric of our community and left a legacy for decades to come.”

In total, over 100 nominations were received across the eight categories. The winners for each category were selected from three finalists.

Click here to read the full list of winners from previous years.

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