Somewhere, in a darkened room no one else can find, a group of five - or maybe six- masked people met sometime in the past few weeks to choose the winners of this year's Downtown First Awards.
OK, they probably weren't wearing masks. And the room might have been lighted.
But it was a secret meeting nonetheless. The participants are unknown even to Amanda Meyers, whose job as marketing manager for Downtown Inc includes planning the annual awards ceremony.
Anyone can nominate a person, business or organization for a Downtown First award. To maintain the authenticity of the honor, the folks who select the winners have remained anonymous since the tradition started about a dozen years ago, Meyers said.
"We want it to mean something," she said. "We don't want anyone to feel like it's just Downtown Inc picking their favorites."
On Thursday, a new round of winners will be recognized for their efforts to make downtown York City a better place to live, work and shop. The ceremony is scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. at Marketview Arts, 37 W. Philadelphia St.
Nominated for the Better York Beautification Award are the North George Street Alliance and Darrell Tobin of the York Blue Moon Restaurant, 361 W. Market St.
Six businesses that opened their doors in 2011 or 2012 are nominated for the outstanding new business award. They are the Cheese Steak Spot, 153 S. Beaver St.; Liquid Hero Brewery, 50 E. North St.; Cherie Anne, 48 W. Philadelphia St.; Copper Crust Co., 34 W. Philadelphia St.; The Pie Shop, 34 W. Philadelphia St.; and Lotus Moon Yoga, 237 N. George St.
Four merchants are nominated for the outstanding small business award, which recognizes businesses with 15 or fewer employees. They are Just Cupcakes, 9 W. Philadelphia St.; The Shops of North Beaver Street merchant association; Beautiful Blessings & Beyond Beauty Salon, 23 E. King St.; and Liquid Hero Brewery, 50 E. North St.
Three companies are nominated for the award recognizing outstanding businesses with 16 or more employees. They are the Glatfelter Agency, Susquehanna Real Estate and Bennett Williams Realty.
For the outstanding merchant award, nominees are Cherie Anne, 48 W. Philadelphia St.; Bair's Fried Chicken, 34 W. Philadelphia St.; The Left Bank, 120 N. George St.; Esaan Thai Restaurant, 30 N. Beaver St.; and J.R.'s Fresh Cut Fries, 34 W. Philadelphia St.
Nominated for the outstanding volunteer award are Mary Yeaple, Donna Watkins, Joanne Ekeledo and Elsie Smith.
For the award recognizing outstanding nonprofits, two groups were nominated: the Women's Giving Circle and the York County Economic Alliance.
Nominated for the award recognizing an outstanding individual within a company or organization are Angie Anderson, York City marketing and project coordinator; Jenny Englerth, executive director of Family First Health; Melissa Grove, owner of Sweet Melissa's Dream, 51 N. Beaver St.; Averie Clark, community relations and development director for Bell Socialization Services Inc.; George Anthony of the Susquehanna Commerce Center; and Julie Lando, president and owner of Moxie Design & Marketing.
- Erin James may also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.