Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce (SACC) members, friends and colleagues celebrated the Swede of the Year, Per Olof (Pelle) Lööf at the exclusive Grand Bay Club in Key Biscayne, Florida. A kettle drummer tapped and tinged island music in the background as a long line of friends and supporters welcomed him. During dinner, Jonas Haeger, SACC’s chairman and the evening’s Master of Ceremony, briefed guests about the "Swede of the Year" award, its committee and the motivations behind this year’s choice of Pelle Lööf:
"... for his outstanding contribution to the Swedish Community by developing the Swedish Consulate into an important service entity for Swedes in Florida. The award also recognizes his leadership role in the initiation and founding of the Swedish Church in Florida, and for being its main financier."

Long-distance congratulations
Haeger read several long-distance greetings and congratulations from, among others, the Swedish Ambassador to the United States, Björn Lyrvall, and from Bishop Emeritus Lennart Koskinen.
Speeches were in abundance. Maggie Armbrust told the story of Pelle’s musical help on short notice during a SWEA midsummer celebration. "You can always count of Pelle when in need."
Joe Collard spoke about Pelle’s accomplishments, noting his deep involvement and voluntary support to the people of Kisengo Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Patrik Henning praised Pelle’s business know-how and his ability to advise and lead.


Best of the best
Kirstin "Kickan" Williams, a former Swede of the Year, suggested that every award cermony resulted in better and better honorees, and with this year’s award, the event originated by Jonas Haeger had arrived at the Best of the Best: Pelle Lööf.
Others thanked Pelle for bringing together the Swedish community in Florida — through hard work and coordination between not only the Swedish Church, SWEA and the two Chambers of Commerce, but also with regular folks with Swedish connections.
Pelle received the traditional "Swede of the Year" plaque, together with a beautiful bowl by the Swedish designer Ulrica Hydman Vallien of Kosta Boda.
Pelle’s thank you-speech followed, showing humility and respect for the traditions and hopes of Swedes abroad. He noted the irony of succeeding as a Swede in America without ever actually working for a Swedish company. "I am truly a Swedish-American" he told the SACC gathering.
He gave special tribute to those who have worked with him, offering Swedes in need quick solutions that they can not always find in bureaucratic environments. He also recognized an extraordinarily solid foundation behind his success: his wife, Åsa Lena.
The celebratory evening ended with birthday songs for Pelle, Jonas Haeger and Mona Tumba, whose birthdays all collide on and around this wonderful event, a true night to remember.

For more info, see www.sacc-florida.com. For the Consulate of Sweden, Fort Lauderdale, see www.consulateofsweden-fortlauderdale.org