Best Of 2014

Best PR prank

On April 1, local marketing agency Visit St. Pete/Clearwater spread word about a “rare marine mammal” that had been spotted off our coast, and their story about the “manaphin” — a manatee-dolphin hybrid — was reposted by news outlets around the world. The agency went so far as to create a mock website dedicated to the manaphin, replete with tacky graphics and misspellings. VSPC officials pulled the prank to show the world a fun, personal side of the St. Pete/Clearwater brand, and it seems to have worked: Yahoo! and ABC News praised the hoax as one of the top pranks in the world, and the UK news website rated it 7 out of 10, placing it in a tie for its highest-scoring April Fool’s prank of 2014.

People & Politics

Best "I'm gonna miss that guy"

Don Zimmer was one of the few Yankee or Red Sox players that Rays fans adored, and that’s because the effervescent, super-cuddly “Zim Bear” spent 10 years on our side as a coach and advisor. Zim — who died in June at the age of 83 — got a touching tribute when Rays broadcaster Todd Kalas announced his death during a game against the Miami Marlins. “I felt like I was getting a gift every time we talked,” Kalas said as he choked back tears. “Really sad news.” Deadspin ran this video clip of his remarks.

Best beach

Runners-up: St. Pete Beach, Pass-A-Grille

Best beach town

Runners-up: St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island

Best bizarro local news story

Runners-up: Jill Kelley, Mystery Monkey

Best Bucs player

Runners-up: Vincent Jackson, Doug Martin

Judge Luis Garcia.
Judge Luis Garcia.

“This court concludes that a citizen’s right to marry is a fundamental right that belongs to the individual.” Those were the words of Judge Luis Garcia of the Monroe County Circuit Court, whose July ruling was the first in a slew of similar decisions by “activist judges” that may eventually wind up toppling the state’s anti-gay marriage amendment. Fun fact to rub in the face of John Stemberger Republicans: Garcia was appointed by Republican Governor Jeb Bush.

Best change in Tampa Bay since last year's Readers' Poll

Runners-up: Water Works Park, more breweries

Best city

Runners-up: Tampa, Clearwater

Best city park

Runners-up: Vinoy Park (St. Petersburg), Crescent Lake Park (St. Petersburg)