Even with a change in the 11th hour, by 7 p.m. the Million Air hangar was primed and ready to welcome nearly 300 guests for the Best of Marathon. SANDRA LEE PHOTOGRAPHY/Contributed

This past Friday afternoon, Marathon Rotary Club president Mike Puto dialed into the National Weather Service. 

The message from Warning Coordination Meteorologist Jon Rizzo confirmed the former county mayor’s fears. A barrage of isolated thunderstorms would be striking the Middle Keys throughout the weekend, casting a cloud of doubt over one of Marathon’s biggest parties: the Best of Marathon celebration. 

With 280 guests scheduled to gather at the Marathon Community Park, the club’s administration and Keys Weekly leadership executed “Plan B.”

At that time they had no Plan B.

So the Weekly’s Business Development Officer Patti Childress made a call to Million Air General Manager Nettie Mayer, “for a small favor.”

By 4 p.m. the City of Marathon’s Public Works crew and a few Rotarians like Michael Cunningham, George Garrett, Puto and Childress were transporting tables and chairs to the Million Air hangar next to the Marathon fire station. 

Since 2008, the Best of Marathon has served several functions: a fundraiser for the Rotary Club, a roast of local dignitaries and business leaders and a celebration of the tenacious spirit and generosity of the Marathon community. The annual ceremony is further proof that it’s the people who make this town what it is. 

The 14th iteration didn’t disappoint. 

2022 marked a commemoration of Shannon Gosselin, a beloved bartender who lost her battle with cancer late last year. Her colleagues across the city came together to make sure she was crowned “Best Bartender” posthumously. 

To the sponsors, donors and those who supported the event, we can’t say “thank you” enough for yet another fantastic night of laughter, fun, beverages, food, music and togetherness. With Marathon Liquor and Deli supplying all the spirits, and local establishments like Driftwood, Sparky’s, Brutus, Dockside, Sweet Savannah’s, the Wreck and Irie providing the food, the guests ate, drank and enjoyed the music of Abstract Radio while mingling in the hangar. 

Shortly after the show started, a torrential downpour slammed into the metal building, but the show continued right on as community members like Lynn Voit, Kelly McKinnon and Denise Pankow among others were recognized for their individual commitments to Marathon. 

Just like the town itself, the Best of Marathon has undergone numerous changes since its inception at the Jaycee Building all those years ago. And, like Marathon, it returns better and stronger each and every year – because of the people. 

Best of Marathon By the Numbers

Voting heat map.png: Marathon may be a tiny island, but when it comes to BOM voting, we go global. Pictured are the number of votes cast in different regions across three continents. CONTRIBUTED

4,483 : The number of individuals who cast ballots throughout the final voting process.

206,932 : The total number of votes that decided the winners for the 2022 Best of Marathon Awards.

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Jason Koler, born in Florida and raised in Ohio, is the “better looking and way smarter” Keys Weekly publisher. When not chasing his children or rubbing his wife’s feet, he enjoys folding laundry and performing experimental live publishing.