This isn’t the first rodeo for our Best of Savannah cover girl this year. Nicole came in second place in South Magazine’s recent Hottest Single competition—not at all what she expected.
“That started out as a joke! I saw all these cleancut nice girls being pushed for it. I thought what they really needed in there was a freak with tattoos,” Nicole laughs.
It started out as a joke, helped along by Nicole’s self-deprecating promotional efforts on Facebook, but evolved into a totally legit contention.
“I thought for sure they’d want me to cover up my tattoos in the photos. Nobody else had them. But one guy taking pictures of me was like, ‘hey can you pose this way so everybody can see your tattoos?’ I was like, YES!”
But Nicole’s better known to many as an accomplished belly dancer and “fire performer,” plying her trade all over the Southeast in traveling shows at clubs and restaurants.
“It’s enjoyable, and helps keep you in shape... well, the dance part at least,” laughs Edge when talking about her passion for showmanship and dance. And eating fire.
“It’s exciting to see the audience reaction to fire eating. They’re either terrified or delighted!” she says.
Lovely Nicole is a Jill-of-all-trades — she also gives sewing lessons at Kleo’s Sewing Studio, plays drums in the surf punk band Wave Slaves, and sells her own line of soaps, Kleo’s Handcrafted Soaps, at booths at events all over town. —Jim Morekis
Like Nicole, this 27-year-old server & bartender at Public was a finalist in South’s “Hottest Single” competition. (Apparently these kinds of potentially ego-destroying competitions are a growing local cottage industry.)
Best Historic Building
As chronicled in a recent issue of Connect Savannah, the crew at the OT House are taking steps to restore and reveal the old butler’s pantry, for the first time making it a regular part of the popular house tour, which continues to pack in tourists to this one-of-a-kind Regency masterpiece. Combined with the restored slave quarters, this development brings the OT House firmly into that select group of Southern house
Runner-up: Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
Best Charity Event
Hero Appreciation Day
This May event held in Forsyth Park raises funds for awareness of the sacrifice of wounded veterans. All the proceeds go to the Wounded Warriors project and Sua Sponte, the latter of which helps wounded U.S. Army Rangers from the 1st Battalion, based at Hunter Army Airfield.
Runner-up: A-Town Get Down
Best Place of Worship
Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
Contrary to popular local opinion, this historic edifice overlooking Lafayette Square has its deepest roots not in Irish culture, but in the exodus of French Catholics from Haiti after the revolution there in the late 1700s. Its congregation remained the only Catholic congregation in Savannah until the mid-1800s, when an influx of Irish immigrants just before the Civil War gave the congregation its overtly Celtic character today—seen most vividly in the St. Patrick’s Day Morning Mass each year. The current building partially dates from the 1870s—though really a fire in 1898 destroyed virtually all of it—and has seen several extensive renovations over the years, both inside and out.
Runner-up: Savannah Christian Church
Best Celebrity Sighting
The enormous success of The Walking Dead made Norman Reedus’s appearance with the Savannah Film Festival by many accounts the highlight of that entire event. He gave a “master class” to SCAD students and sat down for numerous interviews while he was here. And everyone, and we mean everyone, dug his down jacket look.
Runner-up: Ben Affleck/Jennifer Garner at Back in the Day
Best Apartment Community
The Oaks at Wilmington Island
Those who prefer island living prefer renting at The Oaks.
Runner-up: The Merritt
The affable shepherd of the flock at Savannah Christian Church is the public face of a large and influential outreach ministry which encompasses five locations and all kinds of missionary partnerships. A team of congregants even joined up with other volunteers and the Cit
Runner-up: Rabbi Robert Haas
Best Private School
St. Vincent's Academy
Mary Anne Hogan
Our readers just love St. Vincent’s, who win in both these categories quite often, among some very stiff competition in this area. This all-girl high school was founded 166 years ago, and is the longest-running Sisters of Mercy school in the country, incorporating values of Catholic service and academic excellence. Ms. Hogan has been with the school since 2010. The Detroit native was a veteran of Savannah public schools and is the first principal in St. Vincent’s history not to be a nun with the Sisters of Mercy.
Runner-up, School: Savannah Country Day
Runner-up, Principal: Gifford Lockley, SAA
Best Public School
Savannah Arts Academy
It’s been an interesting year for SAA. As Savannah’s best-performing public high school, it’s always been a convenient target for those who confuse excellence with elitism and see mediocrity as an admirable standard to avoid offending anyone.
The school became embroiled in a particular controversy not of its own making earlier this year, when some Garrison parents maintained that the school board promised their children a streamlined way to avoid the heartwrenching SAA lottery process. The outcry-to-the-outcry only proved what we already knew: The demand for academically excellent high schools in Chatham County greatly outstrips the supply.
Most recently, there was another controversy over the school board’s somewhat mysterious refusal to renew the contract of popular band teacher Vann Thornton.
Still, due to the hard-working faculty and staff—led by Principal Gif Lockley—and, it must be said, the dearth of really good schools in Chatham County, SAA remains at the top of the class.—Jim Morekis
Runner-up: Charles Ellis Montessori
Best Tour Company
Old Savannah Tours
Best Street Character
Always a crowd-pleaser, Old Savannah gives the people what they want: Easy and fun trolley tours and encounters with Savannah characters like Paula Deen and Forrest Gump—or actors playing them, anyway.
Runner-up, Tour: Old Town Trolley Tours
Runner-up, Character: Savannah Dan