Letter From the Editor: Fine Feathers

In praise of our besties on Swan Lake.

Roberto Gonzalez

If you want a good definition of Best Friends Forever, look no further than the bond between Patty Sheehan and the 57 swans of Lake Eola.

For the past decade, the Orlando city commissioner has been a watchdog of the birds’ welfare, making sure they get annual health checks, leading matchmaking efforts to produce more swan babies (known as cygnets) and starting a fund whereby people can contribute toward the purchase of new swans.

The birds have seen their share of hardship over the years: people feeding them popcorn (it clogs their systems), turning dogs loose on them, disturbing their nests, and stealing them (note to thieves: the swans are microchipped). Recently, there was another setback: two black-necked males had been introduced as potential mates for the lone black-necked female, Queenie. But one ended up dead, likely disposed of by his male counterparts because of a tendency to pick fights.

For the most part, though, the Lake Eola swans live charmed lives. They are a symbol of The City Beautiful, and it’s hard to imagine the city without its special version of Swan Lake.

“They are one of the most recognizable icons,’’ Sheehan says. “People love them. They really capture everyone’s imagination.’’

And there’s good news on the black-necked front: Queenie and the remaining male, nicknamed Big Boy, “are getting along great,’’ Sheehan reports. So perhaps we’ll see some new arrivals next spring.

The swans may not have their own category in this Best of ORL issue, but we’ve decided to proclaim them tops anyway. So throughout the section, we’ve assembled some “Swan Bits’’ to educate you further about these stylish residents of downtown. Best of ORL itself is bigger than ever, with reader picks in dozens of categories. Also in this issue: a fascinating read on songwriter Sharon Vaughn, an Orlando native; a visit to the revamped Wally’s bar; and Joseph Hayes’ takes on two eateries, Nile Ethiopian and Bird of Paradise. Also in our Dine section, be sure to check out our new “Savor This” feature (print and social media exclusive), where each month we'll spotlight a favorite dish from our critic.

And perhaps we should call on Eola’s lone trumpeter swan to help announce this, but the City’s Magazine recently won eight awards from the Florida Magazine Association in the group’s annual competition. The honors included four first-place “Charlie Awards’’ for photography, illustration and design. The details:

  • Best Design, Typography, Consumer, 20K+ Circulation: Charlie Award, Mary Kate McDevitt for “Food Adventures 2,” October 2018.
  • Best Design, Use of Photography, Consumer 20K+ Circulation: Charlie Award, Denis Vargas, Anna Ware, Roberto Gonzalez for “50 Most Powerful” cover, July 2018.
  • Best Photography, Cover, Consumer 20K+ Circulation: Charlie Award, Roberto Gonzalez, Anna Ware for “Dining Awards,” May 2018.
  • Best Photography, Photo Essay/Series, All Consumer: Charlie Award, Steven Benson for “Elements’’ Interstate 4 photo essay, November 2018.
  • Best Traditional Illustration, All Consumer: Silver Award, Mary Kate McDevitt for “Food Adventures 2,” October 2018.
  • Best Design, Use of Photography, Consumer 20K+ Circulation: Silver Award, Anna Ware, Denis Vargas, Roberto Gonzalez, Maddy Zollo Rusbosin for “The Art of Accessorizing,” October 2018.
  • Best Design, Feature, Consumer 20K+ Circulation: Silver Award, Anna Ware for “Food Adventures 2,” October 2018.
  • Best Design, Cover, Consumer 20K+ Circulation: Bronze Award, Mary Kate McDevitt for “Food Adventures 2,” October 2018.



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