Rennee Perkins, left, and Linda Gallaher, right, were recently presented with the first  Bill Lipuma Community Spirit Award by Tony Lipuma, center.

Rennee Perkins, left, and Linda Gallaher, right, were recently presented with the first Bill Lipuma Community Spirit Award by Tony Lipuma, center.

Photo provided by the Rochester DDA

‘Bill Lipuma Community Spirit Award’ winners announced

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published October 26, 2022


ROCHESTER — South Street Skateshop owner Linda Gallaher and The Funky Frog Children’s Resale Boutique owner Renee Perkins have been awarded the inaugural Bill Lipuma Community Spirit Award.

Over the summer, the Rochester Downtown Development Authority collected nominations for a property owner, business owner or employee in downtown Rochester who community members thought deserved to be recognized for their community spirit.

The DDA received over 60 nominations for the inaugural award, which, according to DDA Executive Director Kristi Trevarrow, was narrowed down to two winners this year.

“It was amazing to see how many nominations were made, and it was really hard to choose,” she said.

Gallaher’s nomination stated, “Linda is the heart of downtown Rochester. She has made her store, not just another shop, but a home for all those who enter. She genuinely cares about everyone, activity listening and eager to help, whatever the need. Linda was the creator of Deck Art, a unique community building event, and takes part in a myriad of community initiatives — most significantly the Rochester skatepark. Most significant is the impact she has on our youth. She regularly will donate to our schools and help students who (do not) have enough income to participate in events and clubs with her donations. Linda is a true gem and is extremely worthy of this award.”

Gallaher said she was honored to receive the award, adding that it was a “very creative” and “wonderful” way for the DDA to honor Bill Lipuma.

“His enthusiasm and his commitment for this community and his friends and neighbors was outstanding. No doubt he would be very proud,” said Gallaher.

Perkins’ nomination states that, “Renee has done incredible things for the community since taking over The Funky Frog and moving the location downtown many years ago. She is always involved with community activities such as Posed, Sidewalk Sales, Explorers Club and Deck Art, often going above and beyond with decorations and promotions to build excitement. Her Free Little Library and garden at the store show pride in the downtown area and attract people to hang out longer in town. She always has a smile and provides great customer service to her customers. You will always see Renee wearing downtown Rochester shirts, as she takes great pride in the area and is always enthusiastic about the future. Renee is a blessing to the downtown area.”

Perkins thanked the Rochester City Council, the DDA and the Lipuma family for the honor.

“It’s great to be one of the first to receive it,” she said. “I love downtown. I love having my business here — I wouldn’t have it anywhere else — and I am glad to continue keeping Rochseter what it is and helping the community.”

The award recognizes individuals in the downtown Rochester community who “embody the community pride, spirit and love of Rochester” demonstrated by Bill Lipuma.

Lipuma founded Lipuma’s Coney Island in downtown Rochester in 1969. After about 30 years of operating his business, Bill passed Lipuma’s Coney Island on to his son, Tony Lipuma.

Tony Lipuma said his father passed away 12 days before his 90th birthday a couple of years ago.

“I want to thank the DDA for honoring my father with this award. It’s an honor. My family is all thrilled,” he said. “My father loved this city and he loved his business.”

Bill Lipuma, Trevarrow explained, made everyone feel like they were a part of his family.

“He was quite an icon for our downtown, and we wanted to find a way to recognize him,” she said.

To select the award winners, Tony Lipuma said he spent a couple of hours going through all the different nominations.

“It was tough. When it started, we were just going to have one winner, but when we got to the end, we had two people, Linda and Renee. … We couldn’t ask for better people. These two are great,” he said.

Based on the success and the response the DDA received for the award, Trevarrow announced that it will be brought back next summer for the second annual Bill Lipuma Community Spirit Awards. All nominees must be a downtown stakeholder — either a property owner, a business owner or a downtown employee.

“For anyone thinking of nominating, each winner receives a trophy. They will have a permanent plaque inside Lipuma’s with their name on it, and they receive a private coney party,” Trevarrow added.

For more information, email or call (248) 656-0060.