Susan Patrick, owner of the Walnut Beach Creamery, has long been one of the Walnut Beach area’s movers and shakers, bringing a practical and steady voice — plus some tasty ice cream — to the section of Milford that Mayor Ben Blake recently said has experienced “a renaissance.”

This week, during the mayor’s annual State of the City address, the mayor announced that Patrick was being given this year’s Mayor’s Distinguished Citizen award for the work she has done in Walnut Beach and throughout the city.

“She has transformed Walnut Beach not just with ice cream, but as head of the Walnut Beach Business Association,” Blake said in announcing the award. He said she has helped turn Walnut Beach into an arts destination.

After opening the Walnut Beach Creamery in the old Walnut Beach Post Office in 2006, Patrick worked tirelessly to ensure her vision came to life, the mayor and Economic Development Director Julie Nash said.

“Susan has said the area has an artistic energy and [she] has been the catalyst in ensuring the experience in Walnut Beach is offbeat, eclectic and fun,” Blake said, adding that Patrick has also been instrumental in attracting new businesses to the area.

“Under Susan’s guidance, Walnut Beach is once again a destination for ice cream, lobster, kayaking and more,” Blake said.

Nash said Walnut Beach has become the quintessential Milford experience, and noting that Patrick continues to advocate on behalf of Walnut Beach, Nash said, "We can’t wait to see what comes next.”

Patrick was surprised when she was called to the podium Thursday afternoon at the Milford Yacht Club to accept a plaque in her honor. She didn’t know it was coming.

“Thank you,” she said. “Thank you everybody.”

It wasn’t just the mayor who spoke highly of Patrick’s efforts here. Contacted after the event, State Rep. Kim Rose said she has seen Patrick’s efforts pay off in Walnut Beach, and she said there are few people more deserving of the award.

“Susan has been instrumental in the revitalization efforts in Walnut Beach, not only with her famous Walnut Beach Creamery, but with other ideas on how to enhance the area and make it one of the best places in Connecticut to live,” Rose said.

Rose noted that Patrick gives back to the community, supporting local non profits, especially the Boys and Girls Club of Milford.

“Susan is one of those rare people who is not only a smart business owner but has great ideas for our community and sees them through to successful completion,” Rose said. “Milford is fortunate to have such a smart, creative businesswoman who truly cares about her community.”

Tina Pritchard, who owns Scoot and Paddle in Walnut Beach, agreed that Patrick has done great things for Walnut Beach.

“Susan has created a fun and exciting destination here in Walnut Beach with her unique, high quality and delicious ice cream and has made a fun, friendly atmosphere with her pink and green building and gardens bursting with flowers,” Pritchard said.

Pritchard also credited Patrick with improving local properties and spearheading a campaign to bring more visitors to the area through her work in the Walnut Beach Arts and Business Association.

“Through the Third Thursday Strolls and dance parties, to the Walnut Beach Ice Cream Run — where all proceeds benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Milford — to the Margarita Mile and the Walnut Beach Witch Halloween Party, Susan has helped to put the Walnut Beach neighborhood on the map,” Pritchard said.