DeLand ran away with the title today in the Sentinel's first Other Best Downtown bracket competition.
DeLand beat out Mount Dora by more than 8,000 votes in the final round of the contest that kicked off Thanksgiving Day.
Just after noon DeLand police stopped traffic at one of the city's main downtown intersections for a brief celebration.
"We’re excited and elated," said Mayor Bob Apgar. "We had to work our way through a lot of tough competition."
Apgar said he didn't think DeLand had anything to prove. But said he was thrilled to see local businesses such as Florida Hospital DeLand, Frontier Communications and Stetson University show so much support for the city.
With about 140,000 votes cast in the contest, only one winner was crowned. But the bracket showed the enormous pride people in Central Florida have in their downtowns. (Remember, we excluded downtown Orlando from the start since it is clearly the biggest and best known.)
The purpose of this contest was to get people talking about what they like in a downtown. Retail and dining, of course. But also public spaces, a certain ambiance, pedestrian culture -- even art. The types of things that make a downtown pleasant enough to want to live, work and play there.
If there's one takeaway from this bracket (besides the incredible loyalty people in DeLand feel about their town), it's that Central Florida has a number of day-trip worthy downtowns for those who don't live there.
If you've never been to DeLand, Mount Dora, Winter Garden, Sanford or the other downtowns in our bracket I highly recommend making the trip.
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