Prepare yourself as I give you a sampling of some of our Best of Orlando winners—from the August 1998 issue.
Favorite Athlete: Penny Hardaway.
Least Favorite Athlete: Shaquille O’Neal.
Best Downtown Restaurant: Manuel’s on the 28th.
Best Gourmet Grocery: Gooding’s Supermarkets.
Best Video Rental Store: Blockbuster Video.
Yikes! Does nothing stay the same? The Orlando Magic’s Hardaway was traded in 1999. O-mag readers, still smarting over Shaq’s departure to the Los Angeles Lakers in 1996, took it out on the big man in our poll. Manuel’s on the 28th, at Orange and Livingston, turned out the lights four years ago. Gooding’s, the locally owned supermarket chain that once boasted 18 locations, has shrunk to a single store located in the tourist area.
But the category that really throws me for a loop 15 years later is Best Video Rental Store. Remember the days when you’d wander into Blockbuster to load up on movies for the weekend (and rush to get them back by the deadline)? Interestingly enough, the editor’s pick for Best Temptation back then was the now-defunct Virgin Megastore in Downtown Disney, featuring CDs, videos, books and coffee. Well, at least coffee is still going strong.
Yes, we grow out of people, places and things. Yet some of the Best of Orlando picks have demonstrated staying power over the years. No. 1 vote-getters in 1998 that also came out on top in 2013 include WESH-Channel 2 (TV Station), House of Blues (Music Venue), the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival (Festival, classified in 1998 as Outdoor Event) and Orange Cycle (Bicycle Shop). In all, this year’s Best of Orlando section covers 72 categories, with the winners chosen by you, the readers. The picks start on page 36.
Also in this issue, we explore the transformation of a rocket scientist into a Cirque du Soleil performer; Answer Man discovers how Orlando avoided a cicada invasion; dining critic Joseph Hayes finds an Italian treasure in Winter Park; and Extra Pulp columnist Greg Dawson ruminates over a choice we must make before we enter the realm of the dearly departed.
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Watch for September’s third annual Pet Issue, which will include profiles of the Top 10 contestants in the competition for cover pet. The race was somewhat of a runaway (I’m pretty sure the lovable winner had a campaign manager). But all creatures great and small—one of them really small—made good showings.