By Lindsay Eckert
Tribune lifestyle editor
Some say it’s the people who make a house a home, or it’s the places that make a city feel like a town. And we’re always reminded things are just things. Best of Kokomo 2012 is all about the City of Firsts’ favorite places to go for anything from tenderloins to hearing the tunes of local talent, it’s dedicated to the people who build creativity in Kokomo’s kids or give us something to smile about on not-so-sunny days and it’s the things that thread the destinations and personalities into a home we’re proud of.
But, more than anything it’s the memories and moments we experience while we’re folding a piece of pizza in half with family at Martino’s Italian Villa or slurping up spaghetti to celebrate a good report card at PASTAriffic. It’s the smiling face handing us our morning java as we whiz through the drive-thru at Coffee Junkiez and seeing kids’ faces light up as they see an Indian at Ko-Ko-Mah Living History Encampment that really put the best in Best of Kokomo 2012. All the places, things and people featured in Best of Kokomo 2012 facilitate our minds’ favorite memories in a town we’ve grown up in, we’ve just planted our feet in or we’re just passing through — and picking up a tenderloin from Ned’s Corner Pub on the way home.
I was someone who was just passing through Kokomo two years ago — it was before the birth of Kokomantis, before the taste of Taku Japanese Steakhouse touched anyone’s tongue — and I was excited for a city that had survived what many couldn’t. I kept talking on the way home, “I had no idea Kokomo had all that!” Well, two years later as Life and Style editor for Kokomo Tribune I have quickly learned Kokomo does in fact have all that and then some (aren’t you glad I didn’t revisit 1997 and say, “Kokomo is all that” because I wanted to) and Best of Kokomo 2012 is proof in the pudding (Best Pudding, possible new category next year?)
As you page through our Best of Kokomo 2012, also page through the memories you’ve had here. I did and this is my Best of Kokomo 2012:
BEST SUMMER SPOT: Kokomo Speedway; whether it’s tailgating before a race or walking the track with my boyfriend after a night of racing. The summer air feels better there, even if you’re getting pelted with mud.
BEST KIDDO: 10-year-old Raven Milligan knows how to rock. The wonder kid drummed with Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Chad Smith and blew our minds with his songwriting skills.
BEST SIP OF LOCAL CULTURE: Drive-thru drink places; I tasted everything from Cotton Candy Sprite to s’mores Coke, before finding my favorite drink to sip through a straw — Diet Coke with marshmallow at Drink Depot.
BEST ENERGY: Dan’s Donuts at midnight; I couldn’t quite believe parents let their high-schoolers wait in line for donuts every Friday night, but after my first bite I totally got it.
BEST BACKLASH-TURNED INSPIRING: Kokomantis; she proved how a good heart (no matter how big or green) can change people’s minds and promote positivity.
BEST ‘THIS IS CRAZY CUTE’ MOMENT: Kokomo Howard County Public Library’s Spy Camp. Tons of pint-sized spies dressed in hat-and-mustache disguises, enough said.
BEST LUNCH: Hibachi Grill; my week isn’t complete without one... or two stops.
BEST WAY TO SPEND A MORNING: Talking entertainment with Kevin Burris (a former Best of Kokomo winner) at WWKI Thursday mornings. It’s the station I grew up listening to; it makes every Thursday a cool full-circle moment.
BEST PLACE TO LAUGH: Kokomo YMCA is the perfect place to get fit with a friend and have fun. Also the birthplace for my and Megan Graham’s unconventional workout, Laugh 4 Abs. We’re still looking for investors.
BEST DATE: Kokomo Beach; I’ve never seen a 26-year-old and 30-year-old laugh that hard. I also may have blown out my ear drums screaming down the slide.
BEST FIRST IMPRESSION: Taste of Kokomo; it was the first event I went to after accepting my job. It was a delicious way to celebrate all the things I’d get to be involved with in Kokomo.
— Lindsay Eckert
[friday] editor/ Record holder for saying the word, best, a billion times in one week.