At Our Best
Best of Orlando: Our people.
That was the chilling initial classification of an incident posted on the City of Orlando’s website record of police calls on the morning of June 12, at 2:02 a.m.—something out of the ordinary reported at 1912 South Orange Avenue among the usual logs of accidents, burglaries, suspicious incidents and “welfare checks’’ on people whom loved ones were worried about.
Of course, the address was that of Pulse nightclub and the call would turn out to be the most horrendous, heartbreaking tragedy in our city’s history. The shock as Sunday morning dawned and the extent of the gunman’s rampage became known—49 people murdered, 53 wounded—left our community numb.
But not powerless. And certainly not idle.
Within hours, people lined up by the thousands in sweltering heat to give blood. Restaurants pitched in to prepare food for victims’ families and law enforcement personnel working the case. Houses of worship offered their facilities for funerals. Community members set up makeshift memorials, and scores gathered at vigils to honor the dead and wounded over the next few weeks. Businesses and individuals gave millions of dollars to help the victims.
The week of June 12, our magazine was beginning to produce, ironically enough, our annual Best of Orlando issue. And it quickly became apparent that the best thing about our city is its people. So while the current issue contains the usual reader choices of bests in categories ranging from restaurants to shops to personalities, there is another, more important theme that we address in a special section called “The Best of Us.’’ Writer Michael McLeod explores the impact of what happened at Pulse and how our reaction shapes the future as we continue to develop a dynamic community downtown and beyond. And photo editor Roberto Gonzalez documents with moving images the first weeks after the tragedy during which Orlando showed the world what it was made of: courage and compassion.
Elsewhere in this issue, dining critic Joseph Hayes sings the praises of Seito Sushi in Baldwin Park, which he notes “has been transformed from a predictable sushi roll place into an inventive, daring and sophisticated pan-Asian restaurant.’’ Black Rooster Taqueira in the Mills 50 District also wins the critic’s approval. Writer Cheri Henderson sits in on a session with the marvelous Swamp Sistas songwriting circle. And Greg Dawson assesses the science of street-naming for new subdivisions, where glens, forests and coves pop up on signs although there are no such pastoral places as far as the eye can see.
Finally, we have tallied the results of our annual Pet Cover Contest, and you’ll be seeing the winner out front in next month’s issue, along with the runners-up inside. There was plenty of diversity in this winning group, a la Old MacDonald, with a bark-bark here and a meow-meow there and everywhere a grunt-grunt and… well, just be sure to check it out.