18th Annual “Golden Deer” Awards

Last night at a beautiful gala dinner, quite a few of us were feted with special recognition for contributions to the Mazatlán community. We were delighted with two glorious evenings of celebration—lots of eye candy, good food and drink, music and dance. I felt so privileged to be acknowledged in this way by our neighbors, and it was also incredibly humbling.

Rodolfo Lopez Negrete, COO of Mexico Tourism Board, Oralia Rice, Sinaloa State Secretary of Tourism, Dianne Hofner Saphiere of VidaMaz.wordpress.com, and the President of the Mazatlán Hotel Association

I was told I received the award because of the work that Greg and I have done with this blog over the years, helping families to navigate Mazatlán, because of the various videos we’ve created and in which we’ve appeared, plus the Mazatlán YouTube channel we created.

All I can say is, it has been a labor of love. We are so fortunate to live in this gorgeous city, surrounded by so many big-hearted, open-minded friends and neighbors. We are merely living our lives and sharing a bit of it with others in hopes it might be of aid or interest. Thank you for including us, Mazatlecos queridos, and helping us feel at home here!

Mazatlán has a lengthy history of foreign residents, making this a traditionally multicultural community. Joining the indigenous inhabitants of the area came of course Spaniards, then Chinese, Japanese, Italians, Germans, and French, and more recently Canadians and US-Americans. We are fortunate in this small city to also have friends who are Belgian, Dutch, Vietnamese and Quebecois. We delight in living in Mazatlán because it has such natural beauty, is a real, functioning city with a variety of industries (shrimping, tuna and other fishing, agriculture, coffee, beer, etc., in addition to tourism), and also because of its rich multicultural tradition.

Most humbling to me in receiving this recognition was to be included in a group with such incredibly devoted, passionate people. One such honoree was the  Zorros de Sinaloa, the local amputee soccer team (founded by Don Benett, award received by coach Berc Zorraian). They are SUCH an amazing group, and last night it was announced that they will be bringing the WORLD CUP of amputee soccer to Mazatlán! Such a powerful, constructive contribution to our community, and to inclusiveness and respect in our world!

Another well deserving honoree was Arnie Garcia, who since 1989 has volunteered to teach chess to local school kids, bringing the international chess championship tournament as well as chess masters from around the world to Mazatlán. What passion and perseverance. We are so blessed to have such people in our community.

There were quite a few groups of people recognized for their selfless, volunteer contributions to the community, including Friends of Mexico (received by President Steven Backman), Mazatlán Tourist Aide Volunteers (received by Peter Larson), Vecinos con Cariño (received by Rudy Villalobos and Arlene Johnson), and La Viña church (received by Gail Villalobos). Another individual honoree was Glen Rogers, who started our beloved Art Walk and nearly on an annual basis seems to have a new idea for cross-pollinating the US and Mexican art scenes. We are truly blessed with a hard-working community here, in which locals and foreigners alike join together to better how we all live.

Other recipients last night included those in communication, such as Mike Veselik, who has operated the Pacific Pearl for something like 22 years; Janet Blaser, publisher of the beautiful M! Magazine; Mazatlán Life (Sheila Madsen); Mazatlán MyCity (Simon Lynds); and blogger Nancy Dardarian (Countdown to Mexico). All of them have made huge contributions to our local community in their unique ways. And, we know so many people who were not recognized who have also made huge contributions. Fortunately La Gran Fiesta de Amigos de Mazatlán is an annual event, and this is its 18th year.

Thank you very much, Mazatlán Hotel Association. We love living here, we write our family truth honestly and from the heart. If in some small way it contributes to building a stronger community, we are very, very pleased.

The Golden Deer awards (different from the recognition we received, though given out at the same event) are given out to tourism industry professionals, including airlines, tour operators and reporters. One of them was awarded posthumously to Jackie Peterson and accepted by Mike from Pacific Pearl, where she was a writer for many years. Another very noteworthy Golden Deer, for me, went to our gorgeous Mazatlán International Center, which has transformed our city’s convention and meeting offerings in important ways.

Hearty congratulations and thanks to all recipients, and all who love Mazatlán.

¡Viva Mazatlán!