Archives for December 2010

New Year, New Website

Update: Since I posted this, the new GoChampaign has gone live on the Champaign County web portal. However, it may be a few days before it can be accessed on all computers.

Champaign Uncorked! wishes you a healthy, prosperous and fulfilling new year.

I’m thankful for the excellent writing and editing clients who gave me the opportunity to serve them in 2010 through Schenkel Communications, and I’m looking forward to helping them again in 2011 … and finding new opportunities.

Among the new opportunities of which I’m already aware: I will be providing record management services for the Community Improvement Corporation of Champaign County (CIC), and I’ll be serving as webmaster of the newly redesigned website, a project of the CIC, which will be debuting this New Year’s weekend.

New GoChampaign home page

Here's a sneak peak of the redesigned GoChampaign home page.

GoChampaign, originally launched in 2005 by the CIC, will continue to serve as an online discussion forum and outlet for Champaign County events, news and information.

Retooled to match the look of Champaign County’s web portal, the new GoChampaign should be accessible on all computers by Monday, January 3. You’ll be able to get to it by clicking on the “Live” tab at the top of the portal’s home page or by going directly to The portal also features the websites of the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau, the Champaign County Department of Economic Development and the City of Urbana.

I encourage you to register on the new GoChampaign. Registered users on the original GoChampaign site also will be asked to sign up, a process that takes less than a minute. After you receive an e-mail confirmation, you can participate in online discussions and submit news and events.

And even without registering, organizations can complete a simple electronic form—by clicking on “submit a listing”—to provide contact information and a description of what they do. I’ll take this information and post it on the site. As more and more organizations take advantage of this, we’ll build a valuable online directory.

My aim and that of the CIC is to make GoChampaign a go-to source for information about all things Champaign County – and complement the Chamber, Economic Development and City of Urbana websites.

I look forward to being a part of this and helping the CIC make GoChampaign one more thing to celebrate in Champaign County.

This Parade Doesn’t Pass Carmazzi’s By

For many decades parades have passed by one of historic downtown Urbana, Ohio’s most beloved landmarks: Carmazzi’s Delicatessen and Candy Store. The family-owned business—now in its fifth generation—started out in 1893 as Bianchi’s Fruit Store. It became Carmazzi’s in 1931, firmly ensconced in history—in a Federalist-style building that served as a military headquarters during the War of 1812, in the southwest corner of Monument Square.

Carmazzi's Deli and Candy Store, Urbana, Ohio, at Mercy McAuley Center Christmas Parade

After the Mercy McAuley Center Christmas Parade, Grand Marshal John Carmazzi stands next to a replica of his store, made for the parade by Melinda Thackery of Sysbro Design of Urbana (and I took the photos of the store, which has stood for 117 years on the southwest corner of Urbana).

On Tuesday, though, the Carmazzi’s building was in a parade. Actually, it was a 3-D model of the building, accompanied by store owner John Carmazzi, grand marshal of the 15th annual Mercy McAuley Center Christmas Parade.

Held at 7 p.m. on the first Tuesday of December, the parade, which marches to the sounds of Christmas through the corridors of the Urbana nursing home, is the brainchild of Tonya West, McAuley’s director of social service and admissions.  The parade actually was birthed from her heart, the result of a conversation she had with some of the nursing home’s residents. They lamented they could no longer get outdoors to celebrate the Christmas season. And for them, part of the tradition included Christmas parades.

Community Mercy Hospice at Mercy McAuley Center Christmas Parade in Urbana, Ohio

The first year, with the help of Bob Jenkins in plant operations and Sondra Williams in environmental services, who continue to be involved, the parade included 20 units. This year’s edition featured 61 units and involved more than 400 people—including Urbana High School marching band members, athletes and cheerleaders, church groups, carolers, staff members and volunteers from McAuley and other Community Mercy Health Partners facilities, a unicyclist,  soloists, veterans, dancers, elementary school musicians, Scouts, clowns, businesses and Urbana Mayor Ruth Zerkle. Plus, several dogs, Buckeyeman and a Jim Tressel look-alike.

In much the same way as Carmazzi’s packs a vast array of general merchandise, candy, newspapers (including The New York Times) and a deli in a tiny two-aisle store, McAuley Center manages to fill and deck its halls with an ever-growing, moving celebration of Christmas, teeming with men, women and children who look forward to sharing their talents and brightening the season for McAuley’s residents. Recruiting participants is no problem, as individuals and organizations now call Tonya.

As you prepare to fill Christmas stockings with candy and other goodies, stop by Carmazzi’s —which also offers special order Christmas fruit baskets.  And take some time to visit people in our local nursing homes.

Here’s a little background on Carmazzi’s from The Ohio State University Center for Folklore Studies.