Best Of 2017

Best Swamp Girl

Savannah Boan, new education ambassador at Gatorland

gatorland.com

Savannah Boan has long been a friend of the paper – she featured for many years as Billy Manes' sidekick in his Blister column, back in her days as "the Sexy Savannah," a Monsters in the Morning radio regular. The 6-foot-tall platinum-haired former Marine played the dumb blonde persona to perfection, but underneath that South Carolina drawl, there was always a brain working quicker than a crocodile's jaw can snap. Fitting, then, that she's returned to the Orlando area in full Swamp Girl glory after a stint in SoCal as a snake handler at the Reptile Zoo to serve as animal education ambassador and "crocodilian enrichment coordinator" at Gatorland. And it's no gimmick, either – to hear her tell it, she digs gators more than most humans. Brains, beauty and boldness ... our kinda girl.

Local Color: The best in local media, radio shows, Instagram feeds, activists and more

Local Color

The best in local media, radio shows, Instagram feeds, activists and more.

Best, Biggest, Blondest Hole in Our Hearts
Photo by Rob Bartlett

Billy Manes

May 22, 1972–July 21, 2017

The loss of Orlando Weekly's longest-term writer and foundational voice is devastating not just to his friends and family, not just to his colleagues, but to all of Orlando. Our bereavement is nothing compared to the loss of potential that his departure from this mortal plane represents – but we take some comfort in knowing that his husband, Tony Mauss, has launched the Billy Manes Foundation, which will work to fund various literary and advocacy issues. And, per Billy's request, Mauss will also finish the memoir Billy started but didn't have time to finish. Rest in power, Citizen Manes.

Best Kept Secret

1. Wekiva Island, wekivaisland.com

2. Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour, scenicboattours.com

3. Sanford

Best Local Activist Group

1. One Orlando Alliance, oneorlandoalliance.org

2. Zebra Coalition, zebrayouth.org

3. Food Not Bombs, facebook.com/orlandofoodnotbombs

1. John Morgan

2. Mayor Buddy Dyer

3. Johnny Magic

Best Local Charitable Group

1. Second Harvest Food Bank, feedhopenow.org

2. Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando, petallianceorlando.org

3. Give Kids the World, gktw.org

Best Local Instagram Feed
Best Local Podcast

1. "A Mediocre Time With Tom & Dan," tomanddan.com

2. "Scotch and Good Conversation," scotchandgoodconversation.com

3. "BYOCB," byocbshow.com

Best Local Politician

1. Mayor Buddy Dyer

2. Commissioner Patty Sheehan

3. U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy

Best Local Print Columnist

1. Scott Maxwell
Note: Scott Maxwell sent us a dedication request this morning: "Jessica, I’m honored by the voters' support. But this is Billy Manes’ award this year. So I’d like to very respectfully decline – and thank Billy for all he did to make us laugh and cry and think." He's a class act, that Maxwell.

No. 1 in our hearts: Billy Manes

3. Mike Bianchi