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October 23. 2012 11:15PM

Downtown cityscape ready for Nashua Chamber's annual gala

NASHUA — Chris Williams sat along the baseball field at Holman Stadium, his iPad depicting a map of what it's going to look like by Friday night, when the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce holds its 84th Annual Gala and Citizen of the Year Presentation.

“The center stage itself is going to resemble the front facade of the Nashua Bank downtown,” said Williams, the chamber's president. “When you show up that evening for the event, it will literally look like you're walking into their building.”

Williams, a 36-year-old Texas native, conceived the idea over the summer, and it took the work of countless volunteers and the donations of various area businesses to make it a reality — a massive display depicting a mockup of the Nashua cityscape, recreating the buildings of the businesses who would sponsor the gala.

“It's epic,” Williams said. “It's really cool having all these different young business entities all chipping in, each in their own unique way, providing something that helps make this idea in my head actually happen.”

Measuring 3,700 square feet, the wall makes a giant half-square, running from first to third base over the course of 230 feet. It is made up of 148 4-by-8-foot plywood panels. Three construction workers screwed the panels onto their frames, one by one, as the display slowly began to take shape.

Local nonprofit Positive Street Art organized the painting sessions over two weekends, creating 13 distinctive Nashua buildings from BAE Systems to Dartmouth-Hitchcock's new facility in the north of the city, all laced with a Halloween theme.

Nashua Wallpaper donated all of the paint, while Home Depot provided a discounted rate on the panels and Schroeder Construction donated the labor.

Following the gala the panels will be donated to the Peacock Players, a local theater company featuring an upcoming run of “Les Miserables” beginning Nov. 9.

“We are going to repurpose it for Peacock Players productions,” said Rod Conard, who sits on the company's board of directors and was on the scene Tuesday to help build the wall.

The wall is just one part of a gala that promises to be the chamber's most extravagant one yet, ideally outdoing last year's Monopoly-themed event which drew nearly 400 people.

It also coincides with the 75th anniversary of Nashua's Holman Stadium, the venue for the gala. Drew Weber, owner of the Silver Knights baseball team that plays at Holman, will be on hand to celebrate.

Nashua Mayor Donnalee Lozeau will speak during a 30-minute segment, before the Citizen of the Year is announced.

The speakers will be preceded by an action-packed secret, a collective riff on an American icon that Williams would only discuss off the record.

For Williams, there's no better time to celebrate the chamber, which has been around for 88 years and is at its highest membership of all time. When he joined in 2006 there were 490 members, and about seven new members are joining each month.

Food will be provided on the ball field by a cast of restaurants, including Villa Banca, MT's Bistro, Saffron Bistro and Celebrations Distinctive Catering.

The gala runs from 6 to 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 26 Tickets are $85 and include access to everything except the beer and wine bar at third base. They can be purchased by calling the chamber at 881-8333, or online at NashuaChamber.com.

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Simon Rios may be reached at srios@newstote.com.



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