150th-celebration leader humbled by civic award

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Sue Platt New Haven

New Haven’s Sue Platt is rarely in a situation that she is actually speechless. She was, however, completely caught off guard when Mayor Terry McDonald announced her as the recipient of the Bill Fritcha Memorial Award.

McDonald announced the honor during his state-of-the-city speech at the Orchid Events and Catering Hall.

“It takes a lot for me to be speechless and that doesn’t happen very often,” quipped Platt. “I had no idea that I had been nominated and didn’t learn until after the fact that my son, Nick, was the one who sent in the nomination. I’m sure there were many others who have done more for the community than me and were more deserving. It was a real honor to be presented the plaque with Bill Fritcha’s name on it. He was a terrific man who did a lot for New Haven.”

In his introduction, Mayor McDonald explained that “candidates must meet three basic considerations. They must have civic engagement, have done service to the community with humility and have performed acts of kindness unknown to most.”

Though Platt had been involved in a number of civic activities over the years, her work as chair of the New Haven Sesquicentennial committee made her the unanimous pick for the annual award. As soon as the mayor announced that a committee would be formed to direct the 150th celebration, Platt volunteered to help. At the organizational meeting in November 2015, with everyone waiting to hear what the mayor had in mind, he asked Platt to assume leadership of the group.

“I wasn’t exactly speechless,” said Platt, “but I wasn’t expecting to be asked to be chair either. I was there, like most everyone else, to be one of the helpers. It was an offer I couldn’t turn down, so I said ‘sure.’ We held our first official meeting in December, the city sent out an e-mail and a news release and almost immediately people began calling and volunteering to help.”

“We had just two months to get things going and no money to do it with. The committee came up with a commemorative coin, T-shirts, beer glasses and some other items that could be sold. Local businesses came through with donations to help get started. Instead of having one big event, we followed the mayor’s vision which was to have four events so there would be something for everyone throughout the year.”

“When I took the job I knew it was going to take a lot of time and involve a lot of effort. I grew up in family that volunteering was important. My mom and dad, Bob and June Holt, instilled that in me from an early age. So, the Sesquicentennial committee actually turned out to be a piece of cake, because people stepped up, pitched in and went above and beyond to make our Sesquicentennial celebration special. My husband, Kyle, was particularly helpful. He always gets dragged into whatever I’m involved in. Overall, I was pleased with everything.”

“The best thing about the Sesquicentennial for me was meeting a lot of new people,” she said. “Though we didn’t know each other back in January of 2016, we’re now good friends.”