Perfect early summer weather greeted the well-over 100 guests at CMSC’s 2016 Awards Gala in downtown Storrs Center last Monday.

Mansfield Downtown Partnership's Cynthia van Zelm, Mansfield Mayor Paul Shapiro and friends chat during CMSC's 2016 Awards Gala. Photo Credit: Allegra Anderson Photography

Mansfield Downtown Partnership’s Cynthia van Zelm, Mansfield Mayor Paul Shapiro and friends chat during CMSC’s 2016 Awards Gala. Photo Credit: Allegra Anderson Photography

The Awards Gala welcome reception, sponsored by United Illuminating, began sweetly with warm cookies from Insomnia Cookies and delicious fare from Lizzie’s Curbside Cuisine catering. The soft sounds of the E.O. Smith High School string quartet provided a perfect backdrop as the winners were all smiles during their official photos before taking the stage for the presentation of this year’s Awards of Excellence. Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, state Representative Greg Haddad, Mansfield Mayor Paul Shapiro and former Mansfield Mayor Betsy Paterson were all in attendance to welcome and mingle with the crowd. In addition, Jack Shannahan and John O’Toole from Eversource Energy presented special awards, while Keith Kumnick from Colliers International and John Baker from Webster Bank were proud to pose with the winners of the awards they sponsored.

The night had the feel of a festive street party – due in no small part due to the giant Alice in Wonderland puppets provided by the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry that led guests from E.O. Smith High School to the Town Square. There they were greeted by the E.O. Smith Jazz Band and numerous Downtown Ambassadors in bright green shirts. Guests were also treated to tours of the downtown sponsored by Baywater Properties and free ice cream from the UConn Dairy Bar ice cream truck, which was a highlight, judging by the near-constant line for the frozen delights. The closing concert sponsored by Fuss & O’Neill featuring the Funky Dawgz drew quite a crowd and inspired more than a few to dance.

Click here to view photos from this fantastic night!