Indian Lake’s Pam Miller took the spotlight and center stage at the annual Logan County “Stars In Business, Night of Recognition” awards ceremony Oct. 4.
The executive director of the Indian Lake Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism and Visitors Bureau walked away with the Max Evans Tourism Award, given annually to an individual who has made a positive impact and contribution to tourism throughout Logan County.
“I am very honored, excited and surprised to receive this award,” said Miller.
“Pam is Indian Lake’s biggest advocate,” said Erin Henry, vice president of operations for the Logan County Chamber of Commence and organizer of the event.
The force behind the fun
It was a fun summer this past year at Indian Lake. If fact, every summer at Indian Lake is packed full of fun events and things to do. When people go the the lake they expect to have fun and they always do, year after year at Indian Lake. If fact, it’s not by accident that 1.5 million people visit Indian Lake ever year, it’s really by design.
There are a lot of moving parts involved in making Indian Lake recognized as one of the finest and most fun lakes in America. Many organizations and people are involved in making Indian Lake one of greatest lakes in the nation. The Indian Lake Watershed Project, for example, keeps the lake clean and healthy. The Historical Society preserves the lake’s wonderful memories by re-building the Sandy Beach Bridge, constructing monuments and restoring historic buildings. And the local government provides services and safety for lake’s residents and visitors.
But the one unsung hero who helps to mesh it all together to give visitors the signature “fun visit” they are looking for is Miller. She is the maestro that orchestrates the good times at Indian Lake. She is an events organizer guru. If you have ever attended and enjoyed the “Party at the Beach” Event, that’s a Pam Miller creation. The wonderful HarborFest that occurs every August is another Pam Miller creation. Fireworks Golf Outing, Miller did it. “Light Up the Lake” boat parade- its Miller’s baby.
The list goes on and on. Whether it’s the Wacky Boat Races, Beach Spectacular, Putt Around the Lake, Ring of Fire, Boat Show Weekend, Maple Syrup Festival, Lakeview Car and Craft Show, Downtown Christmas or any of the many other fun events at Indian Lake Pam Miller has her signature on it whether she created, inherited it or just made it better.
These events just don’t magically happen.
The true magic behind it all is how seamless and successful each event is executed. Tourists and visitors take for granted that these events occur and that they are fun to attend every year. That’s the true magic and biggest compliment of all.
And the most amazing thing of all is that all of these events are basically organized and executed by one person.
Promoting Indian Lake
It’s been the Pam Miller Show at Indian Lake since she has been at the helm. She’s like the Annie Oakley of Indian Lake, a one woman show, basically. Yet Miller is modest and humble. Miller will be the first one to start organizing an event but the last one to take credit. She constantly gives credit to her many volunteers, community contacts, Board Members, colleagues and associates.
She is a tireless organizer who not only runs all the events at Indian Lake but also runs the Chamber of Commerce, which is a full-time job in itself. For the last 12 years she has basically run the show by herself, although she has had wonderful part-time assistants from time to time to help out and she is very grateful for that. Miller currently has a new assistant, Megan Carlotta-Purdy, who has been doing a great job since coming aboard a few months ago.
‘The Great Underwear Promotion’
Miller got her start in marketing, event planning and promotions back in the 1990’s as the marketing director for the Piqua East Mall.
At that time she also created and organized the “The Great Outdoor Underwear Festival,” which successfully ran for 10 years. The event received worldwide attention being featured on Good Morning America and even Australian television.
“It was a very fun event. We had a parade, festival and even an underwear fashion show. Many local and national celebrities got involved and we orchestrated many fun stunts. I remember one year we had 2 executives from Delta Airlines come off the airplane in there underwear at the Dayton International Airport,” said Miller.
Miller later moved on to become the marketing director at the American Mall in Lima. She also around that same time moved back to Indian Lake to be closer to her aging parents. She had some medical problems of her own and took some time off to recover but still sold real estate in the interim.
Nothing can stop her
In June of 2005 she was named the Executive Director of the Indian Lake Area Chamber of Commerce and has not looked back since. Miller is a tireless worker and promoter. Even when she was sidelined getting two hip replacements and having back problems she has never missed an Indian Lake event. She’s comparable to that pro football star quarterback who has never missed a game no matter what. ” I had to get around on a golf cart for a while, but I made it to every event,” added Miller.
Even while in the hospital, Miller would use her hospital bed as her desk and would stack and organize papers on it for the next event she was working on.
Pam Miller is the glue that holds it all together at Indian Lake. The community does not realize how many people count on her expertise, execution and contacts to get things done. Recently, a bridge road closure threatened to interrupt the popular Fall Festival at Indian Lake. During an important transportation meeting nearly ever one there shouted “No, that can’t happen,” when the closure was proposed. The transportation official said ” Who says so?” and it was shouted back , “Pam says so.” End of story. The end result was that the bridge closure was temporarily suspended in order to not interfere with the Indian Lake Fall Festival because “Pam said so.” Pam Miller has Indian Lake’s back and looks out for the people of this community.
“The community really respects her knowledge, expertise and leadership,” said Megan Carlotta-Purdy, Miller’s assistant. She is great to work with and is so creative and has so much energy.” In fact an Ohio Senator recently thanked her for her service, gave her a big hug and told her she should run for governor of Ohio .
The way she makes things happen, one would think she needed an army of workers to help organize and assist her in the 30-plus events she is involved with each year. Instead she relies on her team of volunteers, donation contacts, community contacts and even legislative contacts- Pam’s “Army” so to speak.
The future for Miller and Indian Lake
In the 12 years Pam Miller has been at the helm of the Indian Lake Chamber she has created new and innovative programs, increased events, increased revenues and built an army of contacts and volunteers one could only dream of. One colleague of hers once commented that he would be happy to just get hold of the ideas she threw out in her trash can. She is always brainstorming and coming up with new ideas for Indian Lake.
She has created brochures, websites, event promotional materials and the Indian Lake Visitors Guide. She has formed several travel teams to promote Indian Lake regionally and nationally. “I remember one year we were going to a tourism expo to promote Indian Lake and we had hand made some ball-shaped little trinkets that would play the famous Indian Lake song by the 60’s pop band the Cowsills.” “We had a whole suitcase of them to hand out at the expo to promote the lake. At the airport somehow the trinkets got activated and you could hear the Cowsills Indian Lake song playing very loudly from inside the suitcase. When the airport officials opened the suitcase it looked like 200 little explosives to them. It’s was funny, but not really. We eventually got it all straightened out, had a nice laugh about it and then continued onto the expo,” said Miller.
Miller is looking forward to a new office for the Chamber in the near future. Also, a new signing initiative is in the works for Indian Lake that will direct visitors and tourists around the lake better. She would like to see a major hotel chain come to the lake also.
Steward of the lake
Indian Lake is a special place with its historic past of the Sandy Beach Amusement Park and its memorable dance halls and famous bands and musicians who entertained thousands for many years.
In a way, Pam Miller is running the “New Indian Lake.” Many have great memories of the old Indian Lake back in the day of the Amusement Parks, but patrons should take notice of what Indian Lake has to offer today. It’s beautiful, it’s fun, it’s clean and it’s has many wonderful events year-round for families, locals, visitors and tourists.
It takes a special person to be a dedicated steward for such a special place like Indian Lake. Indian Lake is lucky to have such a Steward in Pam Miller.
Ron Brohm is a regular contributor to this newspaper.