Hello out there, Orlando.
Has it really been a year already? It's Best of Orlando time again, but we never could have imagined that we'd be unveiling this issue during a time like this. A lot of things have changed – oh yeah, we won't be hosting a Best Of party this year – and so much of it seems for the worse (though there are some amazing glimmers of hope).
But y'all came through and voted in force and let us know about the things and people and places and events that you think are the true essence of what makes Orlando the City Beautiful. So we crawled out from under our beds and did our best to showcase your choices ... plus a few of our own.
This year's issue is themed around building a better Orlando: watching the city endure, come together and help one another despite a global pandemic, economic uncertainty, isolation and a really big (ahem) election.
Think about it like Legos, for instance, where smaller, individual pieces fit together to form something bigger and cohesive and, most of the time, genuinely kick-ass. Rebuild, remake, remodel.
In the pages of this issue, we're watching you all build a better Orlando, and we're rooting for you.
— Matthew Moyer, Jessica Bryce Young, Daniel Rodriguez, Dave Plotkin, Faiyaz Kara, Seth Kubersky, Holly Kapherr, Janessa Gursky, Ida Eskamani, Kyle Eagle, Christopher Belt, Collin Modeste, Hollie Mahadeo, Jeff Kruse, Dan Winkler, Jerrica Schwartz, Rachel Gold and Graham Jarrett.
Meet the dynamic duo of artists behind Lego Explore Orlando, which made finding fun in our city look like a snap with their Lego creations.
Like most kids, Charles Lindlau and Robert Privitera grew up with Legos as the toy of choice. Unlike most kids, however, the duo spun that childhood hobby into the popular local Instagram account Lego Explore Orlando. For just over a year, the two have been breaking the Orlando internets with engaging and endearing portraits of lil' Lego folks posing in front of various Orlando landmarks, as a way of "looking at the city through a playful lens." Their big viral moment came early on with a photo of Lego construction workers doing their darnedest to pitch in on the construction mess of the I-4 Ultimate project, and from there it's been a whirlwind building-block tour of the city. We felt the optimistic and do-it-yourself nature of this project was a great fit (see what we did there?) for this year's issue.
How much has your Lego collection grown since you started Lego Explore Orlando?
CL: We didn't even own a single Lego! We bought a single Lego to start! So now we probably have – oh god – hundreds of figures and all of the accessories and a couple vehicles, so we could do drive-in movies and whatnot. It's become a full-blown hoarding situation.
What is it that inspires you to do a shoot at a given spot?
RP: I think that one of the reasons why we started doing this is because we were always out and about and doing everything we could all the time. So, it was like, we do all these things anyway, we should just have a fun way to document it and showcase it,
And we keep them a lot of times in our car, so if we're just driving by someplace and we'll say, "Ooh, I've got an idea!" we'll pull over and take one as we're out and about.
How are the Lego people faring in the time of social distancing?
CL: The Lego people really miss going places! It is Lego Explore Orlando and it's very hard right now to explore. We're trying to be careful and if you look at our content you'd see a bit of a change since March. You'd definitely see a lot more outdoor things.
Any reflections on doing this project that you'd want to share with readers?
CL: I've lived here almost my entire life and Rob's been here for 15 years or so, and it's always amazed us how long you can live in a city and not really know anything about it. It's very easy to fall into the same routines, go to the same chain restaurants, go to a movie on Friday night, and there are so many people that don't understand all of the amazing things that Orlando has to offer. There's an arts culture that has blown up in the past few years, a food scene that was nonexistent 10 years ago. One of the things we love about the account is that it causes us to go places we've never been before. And doing this for Orlando Weekly took us places that we've never been. And so we love that it allowed us to see even more of the city than we maybe would have otherwise.