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Person of the Week
Kyle Miller Continues Family Tradition of Community Service with Fall Fest and Chamber
Kyle Miller is carrying on his family’s tradition of giving back to the community through his volunteer work with both the East Haven Chamber of Commerce and the East Haven Fall Festival. (Photo courtesy of Kyle Miller)
Having been born and raised in East Haven, Kyle Miller says the Fall Festival has always been one of his favorite town traditions. As a small child, he remembers the thrill of the carnival rides. As he got older, experienced performing at the festival, doing karate routines with his studio or performing with the East Haven High School marching band in each of his four years.
“Every time we have family get-togethers, we go through books of photos and there are pictures of me at the festival when I was six or seven on the rides,” says Kyle. “I can remember getting fried dough, doing the different activities, and performing. I’ve made a lot of memories there since I was young.”
Though Kyle has always enjoyed his time at the event as a festival attendee, he also began volunteering at the Fall Festival before he was even in high school, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, who volunteered for the town in many ways. Kyle began volunteering with the coffee booth, selling refreshments and took on a variety of tasks overs the years.
Despite becoming busier with high school activities and then attending college at Central Connecticut State University, Kyle remained involved in the festival. Now 29, Kyle serves on the executive board of the East Haven Fall Festival as his grandfather, Robert Limoncelli, had done for many years.
Limoncelli passed away earlier this year, but Kyle still feels close to his grandfather by continuing his legacy of giving back to the community.
“I remember seeing him give back and he loved giving back to the community and I just took to it and continued, following in his footsteps,” says Kyle. “In in high school and college, he thought I’d be less available, but I made myself more available because I knew how important it was. He was overjoyed when he saw me take over and continue what he did by being active in the community.”
The Fall Festival isn’t the only area in which Limoncelli influenced his grandson. He also introduced Kyle to the East Haven Chamber of Commerce, another organization that saw Limoncelli serve as president and sit on the executive board. Helping his grandfather, Kyle began volunteering for various jobs.
After graduating from Central with a bachelor’s degree in history and a minor in psychology, Kyle took a more active role as a volunteer, helping the executive board as needed. Limoncelli was then able to see Kyle voted onto the board of directors before he passed away. About six months ago, Kyle was elected vice chairman.
“Normally to be elected, you’d have to be on board for a year, but they knew I’d been shadowing my grandfather for so many years and that I was keeping that same level of passion to give back to businesses,” says Kyle, who is a customer specialist for CarMax.
The chamber recently began to host Business After Hours events again and is in the midst of planning its biggest fundraiser: Lobsterpalooza, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary on Wednesday, Aug. 18 at Anthony’s Oceanview. Tickets are available at easthavenchamber.com/lobsterpalooza.
“Last time we had it, we had about 400 people and now that restrictions have been lifted, people are already buying tickets,” says Kyle. “We have a lot of returning sponsors and people really look forward to the event with the entertainment and food. It’s a fun time.”
The East Haven Fall Festival will be held just weeks later from Friday, Sept. 3 to Sunday, Sept. 5. Though the event is held in September, the executive board has been planning for the festival since the beginning of the year, adjusting to ever-changing regulations and uncertainty due to COVID.
Last year when COVID forced events to cancel, many people in the community, knowing that he is involved, reached out to Kyle to share their disappointment. This year, Kyle has heard from many sponsors, food vendors, entertainers, and community members who have expressed their excitement about the Fall Festival returning.
“Coming off COVID, this year’s festival will mean a lot to the community because they missed going to events like these and they’re really looking forward to it,” says Kyle. “People seem eager to get back to normal and they’re excited because it means a lot to a lot of people in town.”
Kyle is hoping that as people return to in-person events, they will join him in volunteering and giving back to the community. As one of the youngest year-round volunteers with both groups, he is hoping to inspire a new generation of volunteers as his grandfather influenced him.
That influence also trickled down to Kyle’s mom, Tasha Limoncelli, who supports the different events hosted by the chamber as well as the Fall Festival and her love of helping others also inspired Kyle.
“I want to do everything I can to get more people involved,” says Kyle, who enjoys playing pool, bowling, concerts, and going to the beach. “I’d love to motivate more people my age to participate and for them to see how it feels to give back to the community.
“When I was in the band in high school, a quote we’d use before competitions was ‘Where we go one, we go all’ and I often think that now as it takes a group of people to achieve a goal, not just one person,” adds Kyle, who played the trumpet. “It’s the same thing for community volunteering. Being active in your community really shows a lot about who you are as a person, that you like to give back, and that you can help anyone to achieve what’s possible.”
One person who has seen Kyle’s dedication to his community firsthand is his fiancé, Shannon Kelly. They are beginning to look for their first home and with the competitive housing market, they are considering neighboring towns as well.
No matter where they land, though, Kyle says he will always call East Haven home. Kyle not only grew up in town, but his family has deep ties to the community, including grandfather’s community service, his great grandfather’s time served with the East Haven Police Department, and his uncle working for public works for three decades.
“Even if we do move to another town, I’ll be back her constantly. My roots are here,” says Kyle. “Through my community service, I pay honor to my grandfather who was a big inspiration and I’ll carry that with me for a very long time. I want to help the community. I like helping people and giving them something to look forward to.
“With the Fall Festival, I’ve experienced it as a citizen of the town enjoying it to performing in it, and now from the logistical business side of it,” adds Kyle. “I understand how important the festival is to members of community and the people who plan it want to make sure we can give everyone a great experience.”
Both the East Haven Fall Festival and East Haven Chamber of Commerce share updates through Facebook.
Jenn McCulloch is the Correspondent for Zip06. Email Jenn at .