The Nappie Awards are really quite special to us. Not only because we get to turn the paper over to you – our readers – for an issue to honor who you have declared the best of the best in the Mobile area, but also because it marks another year in business for us.

Twelve years ago, when Rob and I started this paper, I don’t think either one of us could have envisioned where we would be at today. Certainly every year is meaningful, but the last one has brought about the biggest changes to Lagniappe since its inception, so this birthday or anniversary (or whatever it is) means more.

“Going weekly” was something we started working on almost two years ago, which seems crazy in a way, since we just took this plunge in April. It was and continues to be a major undertaking from financing to staffing to everything else-ing.

And quite frankly, we were a little scared. And those fears were not alleviated any by media people around the country calling us up and basically saying, “Are you crazy? No one is INCREASING print frequency. Why aren’t you investing in this new app instead, or this new mobile platform or some other new digital this, that or the other?”

To that we say, we understand the need to keep on top of the latest trends in digital news delivery, but we also understand no one is going to “click” on it “download an app for that,” if it’s crap.

So our number one focus over the last year has been to improve content, especially in regards to local news coverage. Our editorial staff has more than doubled from this time last year, and it is most certainly the strongest team we’ve had. But even with more feet on the ground, we still feel constantly overwhelmed. There are just so many stories to tell around this crazy place we call home.

Our goal for the next year will be to continue to improve content and expand our coverage area. And don’t worry we will put it on multiple platforms so you can consume it however you prefer – digitally or dinosaurally (paper). We will also be adding up-to-the-minute, live, local weather forecasts with our new “storm team.” Just kidding on that last part, we leave that to the TV folks. And lord knows, they have that covered.

Things have been rocking and rolling since April, and we have been humbled by the response. We could not have made this leap without the tremendous talents of our staff and contributors and the overwhelming support from our readers and advertisers, and for that, we are truly grateful.

But enough about us, this issue is all about the people and places who make this “sweet lunacy’s county seat,” as Eugene Walter once penned.

And our cup really does overflow with awesome-ness.

We have a giant freaking battleship sitting in our bay for heaven’s sake (Best Local Attraction to take out-of-towners). How cool is that? I think we’ve all driven by it so many times we forget just how special that is. Can you imagine if we can get the Xavier de Richemont light project pushed on through how even more amazing that will be?

We can catch some of the hottest up-and-coming stars in the music industry on a lazy Sunday evening in one of the most intimate settings imaginable. Some of the artists who have played in the cozy confines of Callaghan’s (Best Club to See Live Music) have gone on to play some of the biggest stages in the country. I hear their burgers aren’t half bad either.

When World Cup mania spread across the Gulf Coast, we knew to head to Heroes (Best Sports Bar) or O’Daly’s (Best All Around Bar) to scream gooooooaaaaaalllllll!

Apparently we have some of the best OB-GYNs around here or as we like to call them – hoo-ha doctors. And you guys have some very strong opinions on them, as that category gets more votes than some of the others combined. This year the coveted award went to Dr. Brittany Laughlin (Best Hoo-ha Doctor). See, doc, all those years of medical school have finally paid off.

And if you need to get them tended to in other ways, we have plenty of options for that as well, right Leah Jeffreys (Best Hoo-ha Waxer)?

Since this time last year, we have a new mayor, and obviously you have been impressed by Sandy Stimpson’s (Hardest Working Elected City Official) efforts so far. He aims to make us the safest, most business-and-family-friendly city in America by the year 2020. That is certainly an ambitious goal, and I think we all want to do our part to help him accomplish it. Can we add paving all of Ann Street? And bike lanes? And a bridge? And a cruise ship? And more retail downtown? And squeaky-clean streets and waterways? And, and, and. Sorry, I got a little carried away. But it never hurts to ask, right?

There are way too many Nappie winners to mention, but thanks to all of you for everything you do. It is not east to go in and turn that open sign on day after day, year after year, but you do and you obviously do it well. And whether it’s taking care of our teeth (Best Dentist: Dr. Tommy Johnson), toes (Best Place to get a mani/pedi: Studio PH) or tummies (Best Locally Owned Restaurant: NoJa), everyone does their part to Keep Mobile Funky. There is absolutely no other place I’d rather call home.

Thank you and congratulations to all of this year’s winners.