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And the award for BEST EDITOR'S LETTER IN THIS ISSUE goes to...

This is our annual "Best of the Gulfshore" issue and, as always, it was a project we approached with both joy and trepidation.

The fun part was twofold. First, we had a good time dreaming up all the categories we wanted to recognize this year. You'll find the usual suspects are well represented-plenty of great restaurants filling every genre imaginable, along with favorite beaches and favorite bars. You'll also find several categories you might not have expected-Best Plumber, Best Air Conditioning Repair Company, Best Road for Beating Traffic. (OK, so what if no road exists for beating Southwest Florida's traffic? We can dream, can't we?)

The second part of the fun came in notifying the winners. We are proud that the "Best of the Gulfshore" seal of approval carries a good deal of cachet. "How soon can I put this up on our marquee?" more than one business owner asked when we called with the good news. They were even more pleased when we told them they would also be receiving "Best of the Gulfshore" plaques to put on proud display.

So what was the trepidation part? Well, unlike some previous years when we've relied on a panel of local experts to determine who belongs in the "Best of" crowd, this year we turned it over to you, the readers. And you responded in vigorous fashion, filling out ballots that soon were piled high in our office. Which means, of course, that someone had to count all those ballots. A special thanks here to Kathleen Peckham, whose official title at Gulfshore Life is "traffic coordinator," meaning that in addition to making sure all the advertisements are in order she gets to spearhead any project that demands a high level of organization and needs to be done in a hurry. Thanks, Kathleen, for all those late evenings, all that deciphering of bad handwriting and all your good cheer. You're the best.

One reason we received so many "Best of" ballots is that all the entries were eligible in a drawing for a seven-day Caribbean cruise for two. Congratulations to Tammey Patterson, of Cape Coral (that's Tammey in the photo with Gulfshore Life publisher Newt "Grin And" Barrett). Patterson, who is a stylist at Hair in Naples, will be taking her boyfriend, John, along on the Regal Cruise Line trip to Mexico's Riviera Maya. Enjoy the trip. And enjoy the issue.

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