FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association
PHONE: 256.350.3500 / 800.648.5381
Rocket City Trash Pandas Presented the It Only Takes A Spark Award
Decatur, Ala. (September 23, 2021) - The Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association (AMLA) has honored the Rocket City Trash Pandas (https://www.milb.com/rocket-city) with the It Only Takes A Spark award. The award is among 12 that comprise the 2021 PEAK Awards that were presented today at the AMLA Annual Meeting at the Marriott Shoals Conference Center in Florence, Ala.
It Only Takes A Spark Award recognizes an individual or organization who is igniting change and making a positive impact on the tourism industry in North Alabama through their initiative, creativity and spirit. Bringing a new attraction to a community and trying to establish a fan base and identity are challenging tasks in the best of years. Imagine trying to bring a new baseball team to a community for its inaugural season and having to cancel the season before it has its first game. That is the curve ball that the pandemic dealt to the Rocket City Trash Pandas last year. The Trash Pandas managed to take that challenge and hit it out of the park by hosting over 175 separate community events throughout 2020.
The Rocket City Trash Pandas are the Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels. The official name, Rocket City Trash Pandas, was selected through a social media vote and was a nod to the area’s space industry as well as the ingenuity of the engineers in the community, much like the ingenuity of raccoons. The name and logo became incredibly popular throughout the country with the team’s retail merchandise being in high demand. The organization sold over $2 million in merchandise in just over 13 months from the initial brand launch. The Rocket City Trash Pandas did an incredible job of staying relevant in a challenging situation through social media, retail sales, incorporating unique family promotions and activities such as a 5K and 10K, the area’s largest fireworks show, movie nights and more.
Representing the highest achievement in North Alabama tourism, the PEAK Awards honor individuals, events and organizations that have had a major impact on tourism in North Alabama. “The PEAK Awards recognize the best of North Alabama’s tourism and travel industry, and this year’s nominees and winners have all done an exemplary job in delivering an exceptional visitor experience,” said AMLA President/CEO Tami Reist. “With the COVID-19 pandemic still in the forefront, it continues to be challenging times for our industry and I want to take this time to celebrate our local tourism leaders, attractions, festivals and front-line workers who all work tirelessly during these unprecedented times.”
Full list of winners:
Organization of the Year
The Organization of the Year award is presented to the AMLA member organization that has contributed significantly to the betterment and development of tourism in North Alabama in the past year.
Winner: Athens Main Street
Event of the Year
The Event of the Year award is presented to the AMLA member special event or festival that has made a great contribution to tourism in the past year.
Winner: Piney Chapel Farm Heritage Days
Attraction of the Year
The Attraction of the Year award is presented to the AMLA member attraction that has made a great contribution to tourism in the past year.
Winner: Cathedral Caverns State Park
Good Neighbor Award
The “Good Neighbor” Friend of Tourism Award is presented to a person or organization whose body of work has had a significant impact on tourism in the past year.
Winner: Lee Pitts, Pitts Outdoors
Northern Star Award
The Northern Star Award is presented to an individual, such as a ranger, guide and a front line employee, who has gone “above and beyond” expectations.
Winner: Katrina Cope, Holiday Inn Express (Gadsden)
Young Professional of the Year Award
The Young Professional of the Year “Green Apple Award” is awarded to a person who has been in the tourism business less than seven years and has exhibited extraordinary leadership skills and initiative associated with their position.
Winner: Haley Rutland, Marshall County Tourism and Sports
Tourism Professional of the Year
The Tourism Professional of the Year award is presented to an individual or employee of an AMLA member organization who has made a great contribution to tourism in the past year.
Winner: Anna Mullican, Oakville Indian Mounds Education Center and Park
Lasting Impression Award
The Lasting Impression Award is presented to an attraction, event, person or organization that has provided a “lasting impression” on tourists thereby improving the overall image of tourism in North Alabama.
Winner: Lucy Orr, Downtown Turtle Trail (Decatur)
The Chairman’s Cup Award is given annually to a travel writer or media person who has over time demonstrated support of AMLA, the region and its tourism activities.
Winner: Connie Pearson, travel writer and blogger
The President’s Award is presented to any person or organization whose tourism-related project created awareness or presented a positive image for North Alabama in the past year.
Winners: K.R. Yedla, Ph.D., chairman and founder, Yedla Management Company
Senator Tom Butler
Ewell Smith, volunteer, Athens, Ala.
It Only Takes A Spark Award
The award recognizes an individual or organization who is igniting change and making a positive impact on the tourism industry in North Alabama through their initiative, creativity and spirit.
Winner: Rocket City Trash Pandas
Top North Alabama Ambassador of the Year
The award recognizes the work and achievements of the top performing North Alabama Ambassador in the past year.
Winner: Cody Hood, Addison, Ala. (@ensaneoutdoors)
Images of award recipients are available upon request by calling AMLA at 800.648.5381 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association (AMLA)
AMLA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion and development of the travel industry within the 16 northernmost counties of the state. It is supported by 500-plus members consisting of chambers of commerce, Convention & Visitors Bureaus, attractions, campgrounds, festivals, communities, counties, golf courses, restaurants, tour operators, accommodations, vendors, financial institutions and individuals. Counties included within the AMLA region are Blount, Cherokee, Colbert, Cullman, DeKalb, Etowah, Franklin, Jackson, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Morgan and Winston. Additional information on North Alabama destinations, accommodations and special events is available by calling 800.648.5381 or by visiting www.NorthAlabama.org. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @VisitNorthAL and like us at www.facebook.com/VisitNorthAL.