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CITY presents the 'Best of Rochester' amid a year of worsts

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For the better part of the summer, the nation and much of the world saw the worst of Rochester.

The death of Daniel Prude at the hands of police and the fallout from it was headline news coast to coast and overseas. The takeaway for most casual news consumers was that Rochester is an unruly place, where police put sacks over the heads of the suspects they collar, where protesters ransack restaurants with impunity, and where chaos at City Hall is the order of the day.

And that was just September. In August, Rochester made national headlines for topping a list of American cities to be hardest hit by the pandemic-induced recession.

Lest we forget, too, the city’s latest Kodak moment. In July, the company that put us on the map became the focus of a congressional probe after allegations of insider trading delayed delivery of a $765 million federal loan to jump-start Kodak production of ingredients used to make the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, which the president has touted to treat Covid-19.

To anyone from the outside looking in, it must have seemed that Rochester was rotten.

Of course, anyone who lives here knows there is much to celebrate about our city and region. And if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s how to make the best of a bad situation.



With that in mind, CITY presents in this edition the winners of its annual Best of Rochester readers’ poll. Best of a bad situation . . . Best of Rochester . . . See what I did there?

Much changed in the last year that rendered some of the poll’s traditional categories irrelevant. Bars and restaurants sounded the last call for months on end, cultural institutions closed, and theaters went dark. But their resilience, and that of our entire community, was something for which we could be proud. Plus, CITY made up for the setback by modifying our categories.

Now, all we at CITY have to do is brace for the blowback. Every year when the “Best of” results are released, CITY gets slapped with a healthy helping of snark from skeptical readers.

Some of them suspect the outcomes were fixed, either by CITY staff or because of ballot stuffing. I assure you that neither is the case. Skeptics will either believe that or they won’t. I shouldn’t care because I know it to be true. But I do care because CITY has integrity and I bristle at any attempt to besmirch it. To prove ourselves, we had planned prior to the pandemic to invite readers to oversee the ballot counting as election inspectors. Unfortunately, our office building is still closed to most guests. I can hear the skeptics now: “That’s a convenient excuse.”

Most of the snark, however, is reserved for the “Best of” label itself. Who is anyone, the skeptics contend, to say what is the “best of” anything? To that, we at CITY hear you. The “Best of” label is just a brand that’s been around for a long time and isn’t exclusive to CITY. Lots of other media outlets have their own versions of “Best of” readers’ polls.

But we also hear the more than 10,000 readers who each year vote because it’s fun and because they want to salute their favorite people, places, and things that make Rochester special. We think those are worthwhile pursuits amid the worst year in recent memory.

Thank you to those of you who participated, and congratulations to the winners.

David Andreatta, Editor

David Andreatta is CITY's editor. He can be reached at dandreatta@rochester-citynews.com.