The excitement of the Best of Marathon reached its crescendo this past Saturday night when the winners of the 2021 people’s choice awards were announced at the Marathon Community Park.

For the first time ever, the Best of Marathon was held al fresco – under bistro lighting where a crowd of more than 200 business leaders, elected officials and Marathon Rotarians celebrated the recent accomplishments of our community.

Since 2013, the Best of Marathon has served as a fundraiser for the Marathon Rotary Club, where 100% of sponsorships, tickets, drink and raffle sales goes directly to the club to support scholarships for local youth and other community projects.

This year’s haul for the Marathon Rotary Club looks to be north of $12,000.

“The BOM was so much more than an event to raise money for scholarships,” said Marathon Rotary Club president Duane Webster. “It helped the mental getzonedup.com/best-sleep-aids health and well-being of our community with smiling faces and laughter. I can’t wait to see it again!”

Sponsored by Centennial Bank, Promotions Guy, the Florida Keys Electric Co-op and Fishermen’s Community Hospital, Coldwell Banker Schmitt Real Estate stepped in at the last minute to help offset the additional costs of moving the venue outdoors.

In addition, the food was catered by an array of local restaurants including Irie Island Eats, Sparky’s Landing, Sweet Savannah’s, Driftwood Pizza, La Isla Tacos, Overseas Pub, Brutus Seafood and the Marathon Grille & Ale House.

Coca Cola, Marathon Liquor and Deli, Florida Keys Brewing and Bongos Beer Garden provided a full bar and locally brewed beer while the 79th Street Band donated their time and talents to get the crowd warmed up and added a new dimension to the event.

Later in the evening they won “Best Band” for their first win at the Best of Marathon.

The evening included jabs at notables in the audience and recognition of several Marathon residents for their contributions and dedication to the community. Among the notables were Jim Rifkin and Jane Packard, who were honored as Philanthropists of the Year for their work on the new Fishermen’s Hospital. Crane Point, Design Center, Coldwell Banker Schmitt, Matt Sexton, George Garrett and Suzie Curry were also recognized for their work. (Read more on page 20.)

After Marathon Mayor Luis Gonzalez spoke about the resilience of the Marathon business community, those in attendance witnessed some familiar faces such as Matt & Carolyn Anthony with Sparky’s Landing, Dr. Mike Dunn’s cardboard cut-out and the Chamber CEO Daniel Samess representing the Seafood Festival — the only three nominees who have kept their win streak going consecutively for 14 years.

New winners included Ally Kelley for Best Realtor, La Isla Taco for Best Taco, and All Area Roofing for Best Contractor. (See page 9 for a complete list of the winners.)

“It was a great night for everyone,” added Webster. “Marathon is not only a great place to run a business and raise a family. The Best of Marathon is a great example of what makes a small town great – the people.”

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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.