In 2008: What stays the same — the Weekly’s Jason Koler, back left, still presents and veterinarian Mike Dunn, right, still wins. What changes — Maria Luther, left, is now Maria Phelps and has moved away, and Britt Myers is now the Weekly’s publisher in Key West. WEEKLY FILE PHOTO

A decade ago, Weekly publisher Jason Koler teamed up with his future business partner Britt Myers to produce the inaugural Best of Marathon, and so far, the event has raised nearly $100,000 for local scholarships and civic causes. 

Back in 2008, the program was presented with the Marathon Jaycees and held at Jaycee building across the street from Stanley Switlik. In 2013, the Weekly Newspapers and Rotary Club of Marathon teamed up on the ticketed gala that is a “can’t miss” event designed to celebrate the collective success of Marathon.

And now, the voting has moved completely online. 

“There are no more paper ballots,” said Patrick Stevens, a Rotary member and staunch member of the ballot-counting committee (he was there most of the time). “This is going to be a lot faster.”

Right now, voters can still nominate people or businesses at keysweekly.com for each category. For example, “Bill, from behind Publix” can be nominated as Best Local Celebrity. The nomination period ends at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 4. The top three finalists in each category will be announced in the Weekly on Thursday, Sept. 6. Then voters have until Thursday, Sept. 20 to choose the ultimate winners. 

In 2017, still reeling from Hurricane Irma – who was responsible for postponing the September event to November – Karen Thurman needed a wheelbarrow to truck away all her plaques. Not only was the general manager of Hyatt Place named Woman of the Year, the resort also received three other awards — Best Resort, Best Marina and Best Pool. The community was responding, no doubt, to the resort’s response after the hurricane and its important involvement in the continuing recovery.

“It is always wonderful to be recognized, but to honored by your neighbors, especially after such a trying year, is very special and very humbling,” Thurman said.

The 2018 winners will be announced at the Best of Marathon Gala on Saturday, Sept. 29. Tickets for the event to be held at Marathon City Hall will go on sale in a few weeks.

While the plaque signifies the best in Marathon, it’s the gala that most anticipate. The bits and jokes are all local color. Last year, amid worries about businesses closing after the storm, the Weekly offered its own Job Assistance Program — suggesting that local restaurateur Matt Anthony could perhaps pick up a side gig as an exotic dancer, and recommending Realtor Sam Williams for a serving job. And, almost every joke in 2017 ended with #comcastsucks. 

The Best of Marathon sponsors include the Florida Keys Electric Co-op, Broadwave, Promotions Guy, Keys Federal Credit Union and the Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce.

VOTE NOW FOR THE 2018 BOM!

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