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    Wawa Kicks Off 45th Year With Celebrations

    Free coffee, doughnuts, customer awards, and Wally and the Honkers mark Somers Point, N.J., Wawa store's 25th anniversary.

    By Barbara Grondin Francella

    SOMERS POINT, N.J. -- Wawa Inc. celebrates its 45th anniversary this year with 45 "Wawaversaries," all-day events at stores celebrating 10-, 25-, 30-, 40- and 45-year milestones.

    The Wawa store here treated customers to the sight of festive decorations earlier this week, including a cake made from coffee cups, associates wearing anniversary apparel, and Wawa's mascot Wally Goose and The Honkers (an all-kazoo band of store employees) conga-ing around the store, as it celebrated its 25th anniversary. CSNews Online was in attendance, and customers received free coffee and doughnuts all day.

    Selected long-time customers were recognized in a special 2 p.m. in-store ceremony, led by Wawa's COO David Johnston and regional director of store operations, Jim Walz. Customers received a ceremonial key to the store and golden coffee mug filled with coupons for free coffee for a month. Two long-time store associates, Melissa Kelly (11 years) and Vicky Timkiw (12 years), also were recognized. This was followed by an associate dance-off to Beyonce's "All the Single Ladies" and The Chicken Dance.

    "As we've grown through the years we've worked very hard to ensure that the in-store experience is a great one for every customer, and we're very happy we've been able to accomplish that goal here," Howard Stoeckel, Wawa's president and CEO, told CSNews Online at the event. "Holding this anniversary celebration is our way of thanking our associates and customers for making our store feel like family, and of acknowledging this important moment in our company's history."

    Carl Wagner, the store's general manager, spoke about the unique relationship the store's employees have with their customers and the community. "For the customers who have been frequenting the store since its inception, there is a bond that goes far beyond that of they typical customer-associate relationship," he said. "We feel honored to be recognizing these customers as part of our anniversary celebration and look forward to each of these customers sharing their special Wawa stories."

    One of these customers, Sarah Griffith, the president of Gilda's Club of Southern New Jersey, said donations made to canisters placed on Wawa's counter allowed it to buy a permanent home for the group. "Gilda's Club is part of this family," she said.

    Long-time customer Elaine Simon said simply, "There is only one cup of coffee -- and it's here!"

    Customer Art Greenberg added: "These people take care of us everyday."

    For area video news coverage of the Wawaversary event, click here.

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