Best of Miami®

Best Of 2006

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Best Of :: People & Places

Best Animal Rescue

In 1979 Harry and Darlene Kelton were living temporarily inside a houseboat docked at the county-owned Pelican Harbor Marina on the John F. Kennedy Causeway. One day the Keltons took in an injured pelican that was paddling by their floating home. One thing led to another, and the couple spent the final 23 years of their 48-year marriage tending to more than 6000 feathered patients. Unfortunately Darlene Kelton passed away in 2003, but her husband continues their legacy. The Keltons' original seabird station was a makeshift shed, and their first aviary was nothing more than old wood posts with chainlink fencing. In 1992 the seabird station moved into its current facility, which consists of a single-story building with two offices, a treatment center, and holding pens. The outdoor area is now a series of holding pens that allow wounded waterfowl to recuperate before they are released into the wild. Of course, some guests, such as the ones with only one wing, are permanent. The station's population is dominated by the native brown pelican, but other fine creatures such as herons and gannets also find their way to Pelican Harbor. On a recent visit, a northern gannet -- a majestic pearl-white bird with black wingtips and a large gray pointed beak -- argues with a feisty pelican for a space on a wood post. This year Harry Kelton and seabird station executive director Wendy Fox hope to begin fundraising for an upgrade to the existing building, possibly adding a second story. "That's going to take a few hundred thousand dollars," Fox says. "So we have some serious work to do." The station operates solely on public donations, struggling along each year on a budget of $87,000. Pelican Harbor also welcomes volunteers unafraid of encountering a little bird poo and handling bloody gutted bait fish. It is open seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. to noon and from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m.

Personal Best

James "Jimbo" Luznar opened his joint on Virginia Key, Jimbo's, a half-century ago. And there's no better place on the water to take a toot.

What is your greatest triumph?

We used to be where the Herald building is, but then they said our boats would have to go. So we looked at Snapper Creek, Mart’ Park, then we ended up on Virginia Key. It stunk sometimes, and there were mosquitoes, snakes, coons, opossums, and iguanas. It cost us a lot of money to be there, but we stayed. They've been trying to get me out of there for a long time, but now everyone all over the world knows Jimbo.

Personal Best

Born in Homestead, Kevin Wynn is the producer and cohost of Downtown Dade, a TV talk show that covers the arts and culture and airs on the county's government access channel. He is also the coprogrammer, with Barron Sherer, of Cinema Vortex, a nonprofit organization devoted to screening unusual, significant, and neglected film and video works. And he's the creator of Public Domain Playhouse, a continuing series of screenings he curates with Sherer.

What is your greatest triumph?

My greatest triumph? I don’t do “triumph.” I’ve never had one. I can’t tell you how it feels to triumph, or what it looks, tastes or smells like. I wouldn’t know “triumph” if some guy ran over me with a TR4.

Best Dog Park

There are several safe, clean places where we can let Fido run off-leash in Miami-Dade. Coconut Grove has several dog-friendly parks; the Beach has some nice locations; there's a spot on Virginia Key where dogs can swim and sunbathe; but of all the canine treats in my Miami, the mac daddy of all dog parks is in Aventura. Two years ago the city, which is burgeoning with young dog-owning families, built the expansive new Veterans Park. The $600,000 two-acre expanse has a wonderful, well-kept, welcoming space. There are pooper-scooper dispensers throughout the space. There are doggy water fountains and doggy showers. And the most endearing detail: red fire hydrants. All of this greatness, of course, comes at a price: You have to live in Aventura, and show proof of residence, to gain access. It's almost reason enough to move there.

Best Local Politician

It is a dark time for Miami-Dade County's executive mayor. The evil lords on the county commission annihilated Carlos Alvarez's bold offensive to strip them of some bribe-making abilities. Then the Galactic Empire displayed the true power of the Dark Side when it crushed Alvarez in the Boundary Wars. Beaten but resolute, the good mayor fled to the outer rim of the county's suburban wasteland to regroup and complete his training. Upon his return, Alvarez successfully destroyed the Imperials' diabolical device: The Public Silencer. In time, this Obi-wan of the Swamp may finally bring balance to the county.

Best Listener

Come one, come all, to the "Read to Farley" sessions at the children's section of the North Miami Beach Library, the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month at 4:00 p.m. This is no ordinary dog. This shaggy mop o' unconditional love once suffered from crippling agoraphobia, owing to early abuse. But his patient handler, Margo Berman, a professor at Florida International University, worked tirelessly, training him to overcome his fears and earn his Therapy Dog badge. Now Farley helps shy children who have trouble reading aloud. Once the youngsters sit down with Farley on the colorful rugs, they don't want to stop reading him stories because he is a great listener, mispronunciations be damned!

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Best Animal Rescue: Pelican Harbor Seabird Station

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