There’s no red carpet, no little gold statues, and-thankfully--no Joan and Melissa Rivers—just more than 2,500 Employees (who clean up very nicely, I might add) and guests at the Sheraton Dallas for an evening they will never forget. This year 3,239 Employees are celebrating ten, 20, 25, 30, and 35 years with Southwest Airlines, and what better way to honor their dedicated service to our Company than with a night full of surprises and FUN at our Annual Awards Banquet.
In addition to honoring our longterm Employees, the banquet is a time to bestow one of our Company’s top honors--The President’s Award--upon deserving Employees who are nominated by their peers for truly Living the Southwest Way. Congrats to all the 2009 winners!
There were also some special surprise awards given during the evening, including the Founders Award, which was presented by you know who, our Founder and Chairman Emeritus, Herb Kelleher. After a Marilyn Monroe impersonator picked him out of the audience and he planted one of his famous kisses on her, Herb proceeded to deliver the Founder’s Award to Captain Jim Rice with a mouth full of red lipstick—classic Kelleher--the audience loved it!
The audience also loved the entertainment—besides our own rock stars, Gary Kelly; Ginger Hardage; Colleen; Herb; and the rest of our Officers; Houston-based SWA Flight Attendants Jodi Wincheski and Christie Volkmer, who were contestants on the latest season of The Amazing Race were there to present the Kick Tail Trophy--and that just kicked things off. There was music all night by The Signature Band, and the after party was rocking with the sounds of The Wonders.
Of course, we had our newest SWA Celebrity in the house…our Rapping Flight Attendant, David Holmes. He was a total rock star—he wrote and performed a special rap just for the banquet and posed for pictures with his adoring fans (who also happen to be his Coworkers—we really are the LUV Airline).
We were thrilled to have Season Seven American Idol finalist Michael Johns perform. The ladies went wild for him--an Employee even rushed the stage for a kiss! Michael’s CD, Hold Back My Heart, is in stores now--go out and get it and support this friend of Southwest Airlines!
The night was topped off by a surprise appearance from comedian Seth Meyers. He’s the head writer and Weekend Update anchor from Saturday Night Live. Seth did his homework and had jokes tailored to SWA--his set was hilarious. Special thanks to the good sports in the audience who he got to--you know it was all in good fun!
I think it’s safe to say that a good time was had by all…we can’t wait to do it again next year!