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8th Annual Joint International Holiday Chamber Luncheon;Northeast Ohio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (i.e. NEOHCC) Entrepreneur of the Year Awards Gala; Children's Program in the Spirit of Christmas


On Friday, December 8th, we attended two chamber of commerce events that both took place in the Jeffrey Ballroom at the "100th Bomb Group" restaurant on Brookpark Road in Cleveland. On both occasions our server was a very dutiful young employee named Michelle.

The first event was the "8th Annual Joint International Holiday Chamber Luncheon" which was attended by members and guests of the British-American, Swedish-American, French-American, Netherland-American, Greater Cleveland Chinese, and India Ohio Chambers of Commerce as well as the Cleveland Council on World Affairs.

During the program, Mr. John Hogan, from the Air Service Department of Cleveland-Hopkins Airport which happened to be located virtually across the street from the "100th Bomb Group", talked about how the number of passengers usually the airport has increased to over nine million which is comparable to the number in 2011 before the hub ended. This is definitely good news.


Mr. Hogan then introduced the keynote speaker of the day who was Mr. Michael Raucheisen, who does Marketing and Public Relations for "Icelandair" airlines which will begin operating out of Cleveland in the middle of May, 2018 offering Clevelanders a direct flight to Europe. Mr. Raucheisen talked about the history of "Icelandair" which was first established in Iceland in 1937. He also shared interesting facts about its growth rate, network, fleet development, and showed a brief film.

Accompanying Mr. Raucheisen was Mr. Brad Stevens, a Global Sales Executive for "Icelandair" and we got to meet them both.

Other people who we visited with were Mr. William Sinn and several others who had also been to the Holiday Party of "Margaret W. Wong and Associates" the previous weekend as well as Mr. Rolf Bergman quite a few other members of the Swedish Chamber who we had met at a party at the Rocky River Yacht Club over the summer.

We owe thanks to Ms. Kathy Gallagher McKiernan, Executive Director of the British-American Chamber, for helping us to secure a delicious vegetarian meal on short notice. During lunch, we shared a table with Ms. Monago and her husband, Mr. Fred Monago, who invited us to join them at the Lucia Celebration taking place in Cleveland Heights on Saturday evening.

Before we left, we had good conversations with Ms. Lori Ann Crowe from "Sacs Consulting" who was very concerned about the recent trend of deportations and with Ms. Faith Andrews who took part in the road rally in Lake County that we also participated in last summer; we both agreed that it was tougher than we thought it would be.

Mr. David Silk, Chairperson Emeritus of the British-American Chamber, and Mr. Christian Bernadotte, Chairperson of the Swedish-American Chamber, performed emcee duties and introduced the Honorary Consuls who were in attendance including Ms. Sandra Morgan (United Kingdom), Mr. Manny Lopez (Spain), Mr. Hans Kessler (Switzerland), Ms. Ingrida Bublys (Lithuania), Ms. Malou Monago (Swedish), and Mr. Peter De La Porte (Netherlands).

With a smile, Mr. Silk added that even if a person was "just American" they were still welcome to join them all for which we were quite grateful.

Later that day, we returned to the "100th Bomb Group" to take part in the "Northeast Ohio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (i.e. NEOHCC) Entrepreneur of the Year Awards Gala" for which "Margaret W. Wong & Associates" was one of the acknowledged sponsors.

As is stated in the program notes, the NEOHCC is "dedicated to the continuous growth and business development of its members. The chamber is dedicated to the continuous growth and business development of its members. The Chamber also plays a pivotal role in advocating for Latino, minority, and diverse firms as they seek development in public and private sectors."

Ms. Jenice Contreras, the Executive Director of the NEOHCC, talked about how the theme of its work is "Stronger Together" or "Juntos, Somos Mas Fuertes". She is very pleased about how the progression of the "La Villa Hispana" project, which will redevelop the Clark-Fulton area "to be the economic and cultural center of the Latino community in Cleveland.

During networking, we reconnected with Ms. Renita Charrlin who we had visited with last summer at a fundraiser in Amherst for "Hearts of Patriots" an organization that provides support to families of veterans suffering from PTSD. We also talked to a person whose spouse immigrated to the United States from Taiwan with the help of Ms. Margaret W. Wong.

We also congratulated all of the entrepreneurs being honored that evening including Ms. Amparo Vega, the owner and founder of the "Original Cleveland Watch Co." (Ground Breaking Business Award); Ms. Cristina Bermudez of "Floral and Fruit Paradise" and Mr. Egon and Mr. Brett Luengo (father and son) of "Constructability, Inc." the co-winners of the Community Pillar Award. The Padrino/Visionary Award went to "The Albert M. Higley Co." and was accepted by Mr. Cesar Sepulveda and Mr. Gareth Vaughn.

It is noteworthy that Ms. Cristina Bermudez and Mr. Egon Luengo immigrated to the United States from Columbia and Chile respectively and have worked hard to realize their dreams. We spoke to Mr. Brett Luengo and his wife, Ms. Mariely Luengo, for a few minutes and they reminded us that we previously met them and had a nice visit at the City Club when Ms. Isabel Allende, the famed international author, spoke there in September of this year.

At the beginning of the evening, we listened to music played by a band in which Mr. Marco Grgurevic, the Chair of NEOHCC, was the keyboard player. We remarked to his mother, our good friend Dr. Maria Pujana, that Mr. Grguerevic was quite a swanky, talented dude, and she smiled and nodded in agreement.

The next day was Saturday, December 9th, and we attended two programs very much in tune with the Yuletide/Holiday season, the first one being the "Children's Program in the Spirit of Christmas" that took place that afternoon at the Hungarian Museum in the Galleria.

We had a good time watching the some 36 young children decorate honey cake Christmas cookies as well as pine cones that could then be used as  ornaments. We also watched a short video about King Matthias (aka Matyas Kiraly) of Hungary and his efforts to look out for his people by ensuring them a government of fairness and justice.

As we watched the youngsters, we sat beside Professor Marguerite Wilson was supervising her granddaughter. Professor Wilson talked to us about how grateful she was that her grandparents, who immigrated to the U.S. from Hungary, passed on many of the traditions from their homeland to their children and grandchildren including those concerning the celebration of Christmas. She really loved the simplicity of these traditions which unfortunately have become more commercialized now. She agreed with her about preferring live Christmas trees to artificial ones.


Our friend Ms. Andrea Meszaros and an assortment of volunteers did a fine job coordinating the happening which was fun for adults as well as for kids. Accordingly we would like to acknowledge those who helped out (many of whom we know) including Kati Gulden, Atilla Nemeth, Magdalene Meszaros, Hajnal Kezdi, Csilla Varga, Vali Ratoni-Nagy, Emmi Fitzgerald, Marianna Gandolfo, Elmer Meszaros, Rick Gandolfo, and Sanyi Kezdi.

Later there was a puppet show put on by Mr. Paul Strada and Ms. Krisztina Bilek that impressed upon the children the need not to be selfish and greedy. Lastly there was a visit by St. Nicholas (aka Mikulas bacsi) who gave the children bags of candy and queried them about how well they were doing in school and what their favorite subjects were. Of course, we knew that he was none other than Mr. John Megyimori who is an old friend of former U.S. Congressperson Dennis J. Kucinich and so we have known him for years.

That evening we went to the Church of the Savior on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights to attend the "Christmas and Lucia Fest" put on by the Nobel-Monitor Lodge and the Swedish Cultural Society of Cleveland.

We recognized Ms. Astri Seidenfeld and Ms. Malou Monago from the International Chamber Lunch that we had attended the previous day and stopped by their seats to say hello. In fact, there were several people in attendance that evening who were also at that luncheon like Ms. Monago's husband, Mr. Fred Monago as well as Mr. Rolf Bergman, Mr. Bo Carlsson, and Mr. Richard Erickson.

Another person we greeted was our friend Professor Suzanne Ondrus who told us that she wanted to be there because for several years, as a high school student, she took part in her school's Lucia Procession and so she wanted to see it done once more.

The evening consisted of Swedish carols sung in Swedish by the "Vasa Voices" choir under the direction of Ms. Judith Higbee and the Lucia procession composed of young people of all ages under the direction of Ms. Anna Rietsch.

It was unimportant that we didn't understand the words being sung. In fact we were glad that they were sung in the Swedish language because it perfectly suited the ambiance of the evening as did the sometimes dimmed lighting along with the cold weather and the flurries outside. For a few minutes we were able to imagine that we were transported back many years to a small church on the Swedish countryside in the wintery months.


Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC



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