Winter Park received the “Coolest Downtown” award and was singled out for its tribute to African-American heritage.

The city was also recognized as a finalist for an “Outstanding Achievement Award for Environmental Effortsat the 2017 America in Bloom (AIB) Symposium in Holliston, Massachusetts.

Along with a handful of the 40 communities evaluated, Winter Park also received the top 2017 “Bloom Rating” of five blooms. It is the third major AIB award Winter Park has received during the past five years.

AIB judges Barbara Vincentsen and Laurie Potier-Brown spent two days touring each community in the 20,000 to 30,000 population categories. They met with municipal officials, residents and volunteers.

The cities were evaluated on six criteria across municipal, commercial, and residential sectors including environmental efforts, heritage preservation, landscape and floral displays, overall impression, and urban forestry. Cities also were judged on community involvement.

The judges highlighted Winter Park’s Hannibal Square Heritage Center (HSHC).

“The HSHC was one of the most noteworthy heritage efforts in Winter Park,” the judges’ evaluation said. “The African-American community has always been an integral part of the heritage of Winter Park, and the residents of this community have a long, important role in the dynamics of the city.”

The symposium was attended by Stephen and Kristin Pategas, members of Winter Park’s Keep Winter Park Beautiful & Sustainable Advisory Board and Winter Park Blooms Committee. The couple own Hortus Oasis, a landscape architect company based in Winter Park.

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