Mayor makes a pitch for nation's best sunset recognition; City receives two 'SUNsational' awards

CLEARWATER – After achieving a designation earlier this year as “Florida's Best Beach Town” by USA Today, city officials would like to follow that up with a title that would garner national recognition.
USA Today announced last week that Clearwater made the “10 best” readers' choice travel awards as a contender for the category of “Best Place to Watch a Sunset.”
Mayor George Cretekos made time during the city council meeting last week to encourage residents and visitors to vote for Clearwater in this latest poll.
“This is where we need your help. Please vote and encourage your friends, co-workers and guests (to vote). With your help, Clearwater can get the attention it deserves ... let the whole country know that Clearwater's sunsets truly are the best!”
The poll asks readers to select from a list of 20 locations in North America and Mexico with the best “westerly” view.
The sunsets of Clearwater, one of two Gulf coast cities on the list (the other is Panama City Beach), will compete with Pacific area sunsets of places like North Shore in Oahu, Hawaii; Vancouver, Canada; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; and four California cities. Competition on the Atlantic coastal areas includes the Outer Banks in North Carolina; Tybee Island, Ga.; and Key West.
But it seems some USA Today readers favor landlocked scenes like a mountain sunset over the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina; a desert sunset in Albuquerque, N.M.; a saguaro cacti desert sunset in Tuscan, Ariz.; the Red Rock Canyon sunset in Sedona, Ariz.; and the sunset over one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
To vote, go online at Voting continues until noon Oct. 14.  Winners will be announced at noon Oct. 16. 
“You can vote once a day at least so that the city of Clearwater can be recognized for not only having the best beach in Florida but also the best sunsets in the country,” the mayor said.
SUNsational Awards
The city was awarded two Florida Festivals & Events Association (FFEA) awards this month. According to the city's events and athletics coordinator Brian Craig, the poster for the 2013 Sea-Blues Festival and a night photograph capturing a fireworks finale at the Fun 'n Sun Festival at Coachman Park were voted first place.
The seafood and blues festival poster was a collaborative effort by city graphics designer Jonathan Anderson with input from events and festivals specialist Chrystal Ryals and Craig. The photograph was taken by Jeremiah Khokhar, a freelance photographer hired by the city to take pictures of the April/May event.
The city has been a member of the FFEA, which supports the state's event industry, since 2010. This was the first year Clearwater officials entered into the FFEA's annual contest, Craig said.
According to its website, the FFEA has 415 members across the state.

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