Landes, Giannaris honored by Chamber

September 19, 2004

Hagerstown Suns General Manager Kurt Landes was named the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce's Business Person of the Year.

"He's certainly done a lot of promoting Hagerstown and done a lot for the Suns," said Doug Wright Jr., chairman of the chamber's Business Awards Subcommittee.

"He's brought a lot of notice to Hagerstown, certainly revitalized that franchise," Wright said.

Landes said attendance for the former Class A South Atlantic League affiliate of the San Francisco Giants increased almost 5 percent during the 2002 and 2003 seasons.

This season, attendance increased 27 percent to 128,508 people, Landes said.

"We finished the season really on a high note," Landes said. "We had a heck of a year from Willie Mays being at the ballpark to the governor, a lot of special promotions this year."


Landes orchestrated Hall of Famer Mays' return visit to Hagerstown and Municipal Stadium on Aug. 9, 54 years after he faced racial slurs at the stadium during his debut with the Trenton (N.J.) Giants, the Class B Interstate League affiliate of the New York Giants.

The emotional return visit led to Landes' appearance on ESPN2's "Cold Pizza," during which he talked about Mays' visit and its impact on the community.

According to Landes' profile, his business accomplishments include having the Suns be awarded the "Veeckie" award by ESPN The Magazine for the Gerald N. Minnich preplanned funeral giveaway during the 2003 season.

"It's a tremendous honor, a tremendous surprise" to be named Business Person of the Year, said Landes, 31, of Hagerstown.

Nick Giannaris

Nick Giannaris, founder of Christmas With Nick, will be awarded the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce's Distinguished Community Service Award.

"Of course, he's being recognized for all the years he's been involved in his Christmas program and his donation to the community and feeding all those that want to be fed on Christmas Day," said Doug Wright Jr., chairman of the Business Awards Subcommittee.

After 17 years and feeding thousands of people on Christmas, Giannaris announced in December 2003 that the previous year's free holiday luncheon at his Four Points Sheraton on Dual Highway was his last.

Giannaris said then he no longer could host the popular feast because of health reasons. He had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

Giannaris, 70, of Hagerstown, couldn't be reached for comment this week because he was out of town.

"He was very honored that he would receive the award," said Giannaris' administrative assistant, Cathy Lewis.

Giannaris has been involved in numerous community service projects, including founding the Washington County chapter of Dream Come True Inc. and being a founding member of Children's Village of Washington County Inc., according to the profile submitted to the chamber.

The Giannaris family owns the Airport Inn north of Hagerstown.

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