Randy McNally announced its Best of the Road winners Thursday, which included six categories of the Best Small Towns. For Friendliest City, Bradenton was named a runner up. The winner was Kewanee, Ill., located east of Davenport, Iowa.
Bradenton also joined runner-ups Macon, Ga., Murray, Ky., and Keokuk, Iowa. While Bradenton's been nicknamed The Friendly City since the 1930s, it didn't help the votes.
The winners were determined by votes and social media engagement, and because Bradenton was a finalist, had to enter a video, which you can see above, as well as an essay. Here's an excerpt proclaiming the friendliness:
Friendliness even colors the city’s approach to arts and culture. Named the #2 small city for arts in America byAmericanStyle Magazine, Bradenton is home to the Village of the Arts, an eclectic community of artists living and working together in a downtown neighborhood. Here, visitors can immerse themselves in a world of creativity, tour working studios, and even chat about inspiration and technique with an artist over a glass of sweet tea. Bradenton is also home to a potpourri of thriving galleries, art centers, theater troupes and a full calendar of musical performances, including the Bradenton Blues Festival.
The friendly approach to life transcends fun times though. Mayor Wayne Poston reports that much business in Bradenton is still accomplished with a simple handshake. In addition, the community comes together to enthusiastically serve those in need. Residents built more than 100 homes for Habitat for Humanity, and volunteer at local food banks. The city is also home to Southeastern Guide Dogs, an organization that brings new hope to the visually impaired.
Bradenton, Florida has been “The Friendly City” for generations. Residents are still offering a warm welcome to visitors today.The contest was sponsored by RV club Good Sam and Geocaching.com, and focused on cities that have a population of 150,000 or less and could only be in the lower 48 (sorry Hawaii and Alaska). Voting ended Sept. 3.
The Bradenton Herald reported about the contest in July when the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau tried to push out the vote:
Bradenton was entered last year in the contest, but did not win. This year, Rand McNally sent her an email notice reminding her to enter Bradenton in the contest. The visitor's bureau enlisted the help of the City of Bradenton to get the word out. Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston said it was a easy decision to make. "It would be a natural for us to win with our Friendly City slogan," said Poston. "We want to make sure people get out and vote."
Another Gulf Coast city also received accolades. Punta Gorda was named runner-up for Most Beautiful city, losing out to Jefferson City, Mo. The only other Florida city recognized in the contest was Merritt Island, a runner-up for Geocaching.
(h/t to Realize Bradenton)