The named Janet and Tony Galante as Citizens of the Year at the Chamber's annual Awards Dinner on Wednesday night at the .
Chamber President Scott Halliday called the Galantes "the epitome of what supports our community" for their service as teachers, volunteers and local business persons.
Mayor Jay Gillian said they are a "testament to what Ocean City is all about."
Tony has taught at for 33 years, and Janet served as the co-chairperson of the Stainton Society for two years and continues to volunteer her time for Shore Medical Center as a member of the Stainton Society Campaign Committee.
Janet and Tony have owned and operated 10th Street bikes since 1997. They have owned and operated the 13th Street Bikes and Parking Lot since 1999, and have operated the 13th Street BathHouse for the past three years.
Janet and Tony met on a job interview at Ocean City High School in the summer of 1979. Both were awarded one-year teaching positions. Janet stayed the year and lost her position when the person she filled in for returned. She remained at the high school as the fall and winter cheerleading coach for four years. Tony is in the same teaching position 33 years later.
They were married in 1983 and have two sons, Joey, 28, and Michael, 26. Joey is the head wrestling coach at The College of New Jersey and Mike is a financial analyst for a firm in Boulder, CO.
Janet owned and operated a monogramming business, “Creative Stitches,” which she ran from their home from the 1980s until 1998.
They were part owners in the original Iron Raider Gym and for eight years, owned and operated Stauffer’s PediFreezers. In 2009, they opened G’s Water Ice on the Boardwalk and ran it for one summer before selling the business.
Tony coached football at OCHS from 1979 to 1991 and was the head coach from 1985 to 1989. He coached wrestling at the high school from 1979 to 2003. For many years, he was the head coach of the Upper Township wrestling team while Janet served as the primary organizer of the program.
She also served as treasurer on Jay Gillian’s successful Board of Education and mayoral election campaigns.
Tony has served on numerous school-related committees and served as the Ocean City School District’s keynote speaker in 2009. He was named Press Area Football Coach of the Year in 1985 and was named OCHS Teacher of the Year in 2002.
Both Tony and Janet are members of the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce and Boardwalk Merchants Association.
In gracious and humorous remarks at Wednesday's event, Tony Galante thanked his family, his employees and his extended "family" in the Ocean City community for the honor — from his father-in-law, Joe DiOrio, 90, to his own parents, to his children, who could not be present for the event.
"We're just us," Janet Galante said. "Thank you for accepting us as we are."
In addition to the Citizens of the Year Award, Business Awards were presented to:
Environmentally Friendly Award: for making a business of recycling (books) but also for letting customers recycle paper and plastic bags.
Outstanding Use of Technology: Ocean City Patch for creating a daily meeting place for anybody interested in finding and sharing information about Ocean City.
Business Renovation/Improvement: for a first-rate renovation at the heart of Ocean City's southern gateway on 34th Street.
Business New Construction: for converting a downtown storefront into a modern gym — complete with pieces of the basketball court from the old Ocean City High School gym.
Outstanding Landscaping/Signage Award: used new purple awnings to help customers find Ocean City's hottest new specialty doughnuts.
Outstanding New Service Business: for filling a void with an indispensable new service for visiting families.
Outstanding New Business: and provided great additions to "The Avenue" in Ocean City with jewelry and nautical gifts.
Outstanding Service to the Community: sponsored the Susan B. Koman Breast Cancer Walk on the Boardwalk, donated to local events, supported the Ocean City Food Cupboard with holiday dinners and allowed the Chamber to use Acme property as the site for a new Welcome Center for the south end.
Outstanding Civic, Community Non-Profit Organization: and . The Tabernacle's Son Club expanded to serve 140 children in grades 2 to 8 five days a week. The after-school program started in 2006 with just six girls. The Ocean City Theatre Company offers a variety of dance, music and theater education opportunities for Ocean City youth.