Winterberry Medical Director, Dr. Steven Zizzo awarded the Order of Hamilton for outstanding contribution to the city’s COVID-19 vaccination effort.

Hamilton Mayor Andrea Horwath hosts first in-person New Year’s Levee at city hall after two yearsIn a departure by past mayors holding one New Year’s levee at city hall, Mayor Andrea Horwath believes there should be more of them for the community to enjoy.

After two years without in-person levees, Horwath held the first of five citywide levees on Jan. 4 on the second floor of Hamilton City Hall, the first time it was held on a weekday evening.

“I just thought it was a positive way to start off the new term of council by saying to the people of Hamilton, no matter what part of the city you reside in, we are all part of one big city,” said Horwath in an interview.

The mayor said the idea came from someone during the recent election campaign, to hold multiple levees across the city.

“We are a city of many communities,” said Horwath. “It just reflects for me the ties that bind us.”

The Glanbrook Municipal Service Centre is slated to host the Jan. 5 New Year’s Levee, followed by Ancaster on Jan. 6, both starting at 7 p.m. and running until 9 p.m. The Stoney Creek Municipal Service Centre planned its levee for Jan. 7, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., and Flamborough and Dundas are set to host levees on Jan. 8, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. respectively. The public is encouraged to bring a non-perishable donation for the local food bank.

Adding to Horwath’s attempts to unite the community after 23 years of being an amalgamated city, the mayor bestowed the Order of Hamilton medals on four Hamiltonians during the event. Horwath will be presenting the honour to other residents at the upcoming levees as well.“This is not just a symbolic order, but also a representation of the way we are all part of something,” said Horwath. “We are all in this together and we all have to support each other. There are lots of people doing great things in all parts of our city.”

The recipients of the Order of Hamilton were Bill Custers, senior manager at Cable 14, who provided valuable information during the COVID-19 pandemic; Mike Moore, president of Hamilton Challenger Baseball Association; Karen Nelson, a 30-year volunteer who co-founded the Hamilton Youth Steel Orchestra and has volunteered for the Trinidad and Tobago Association of Hamilton; and Dr. Steven Zizzo, medical director of Winterberry Family Medicine, who volunteered his clinic to deliver high volume vaccine capacity to Hamilton Public Health during the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been the largest private immunization campaign in Canada, said Horwath.

“There is no shortage or desire of people here (to volunteer),” said Horwath to the estimated 100 people who braved a cold, rainy evening.Holding the levee, said Horwath, who became the first women to sit in Hamilton’s mayor’s chair after winning a closely contested municipal election last October, is a chance to “renew some hope and optimism” for 2023 after two years without an in-person levee.The Order of Hamilton was created in 2019 by former mayor Fred Eisenberger when he awarded nine individuals with the medal and pin during his last in-person New Year’s Levee in Jan. 5, 2020. Eisenberger did conduct virtual New Year’s levees in 2021 and 2022, and announced the recipients during the events.The city created the order as a way to recognize “the unsung heroes of our communities (who) are the endless volunteers.”

Also attending the Jan. 4 event was Hamilton Mountain NDP MPP Monique Taylor, and councillors Tammy Hwang of Ward 4 and Glanbrook Coun. Mark Tadeson.Tadeson said it was his first time attending a Hamilton levee event, which was competing with a Hamilton Bulldogs hockey game, and he was interested to meet and greet residents.

Horwath’s interview with reporters was interrupted by Canadian entertainment icon Luba Goy, who embraced the mayor.”I have stars in my eyes,” said Horwath, who quickly held Goy and stood with her for cellphone photos.Horwath’s first levee, which lasted from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., was broadcast by Cable 14 and hosted by Mike Fortune.