Tell City full of friends, Citizen of the Year says

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Tony Hollinden to be recognized Wednesday as Schweizer Fest begins


TELL CITY – A frequent pedestrian in Tell City’s downtown, Tony Hollinden is honked at often. In larger cities that would likely signify someone being upset. Not so in Tell City.

“Here, when someone honks at you – either when you’re driving or walking down the sidewalk – it’s a way of saying ‘hello,’ not being mad” said Hollinden during a walk toward his office.

Hollinden, 56, will be honored Wednesday evening in City Hall Park as he accepts the 2012 Distinguished Citizen of the Year by the Tell City Historical Society.

The annual honor recognizes someone who has contributed to the city’s quality of life. Past honorees have included Mayor Gayle Strassell, Chris Cail, Rebecca Fenn, the Rev. Lee Brown and Dr. Fred Smith.

The awards presentation will begin at 7 p.m. in City Hall Park.

Hollinden, who carries an active sense of humor, said the award is a “big honor” for him and his family. He points out that his parents, Jim and Mary Ann Hollinden, were honored with it 20 years ago.

The honoree’s serious side doesn’t last long. His cell phone rings and he tells the caller he’ll have to return the call. “I can’t talk now. I’m getting my picture taken,” he tells them.

All kidding aside, Hollinden has been at the civic forefront of life in Tell City for the past 30 years. He currently works at family-owned Hollinden Realty and is in his second term as at-large city councilman.

He served in the past on the Tell City-Troy Township School Board and has been a long-time member of Kiwanis, where he has promoted the group’s annual pancake breakfasts, Christmas fruit baskets and fish frys.

As a Realtor, Hollinden shares his love of the city with prospective buyers and often begins tours at the river. “I like to show people where the city started from and how it grew,” he said. He pointed out the improvements along the city’s riverfront. He talks easily about his love for the city and Perry County, calling the city full of friends who make the community close-knit.

“I know someone who lived in a large city who once said he felt good having five friends in the community. Just five,” he said. “I don’t know many people here who have just five friends.”

The letter nominating Hollinden for the historical society award talked about his commitment to family and community.

“Tony is a family man. He once said that his greatest accomplishment was and will always be his family. He has always been there for his children, supporting them in every activity that they have participated in,” the person nominating him wrote. “He has spent many early mornings and late nights traveling with them to baseball games, track meets, band contests, etc. However, he was not just a father in the crowd cheering his child on; he volunteered countless hours, behind the scenes making sure the activity his children participated in would be successes, be it funding or helping load band equipment. He is an involved father.”

The letter of nomination also touted Hollinden’s promotion of wellness programs, before and after his election to the city council, his efforts at getting people to recycle more and his promotion of the arts through his involvement in the Tell City Regional Arts Association.

Tony and his wife, Rhonda, have been married for more than 30 years. They have five sons: Tom, Chris, Andy, Joey and Greg. Tony said the couple’s sons will be on hand Wednesday under the park gazebo.

A reception will follow Wednesday’s presentation at the historical society museum.