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Best of Savannah 2011: City Life
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Most Eligible Local Bachelor

Ahndhi Sticha

Our fresh–faced winner of Most Eligible Local Bachelor this year is 23–year–old Ahndhi Sticha (his real first name is Andrew, but “Ahndhi” is so much more mysterious, don’t ya think?).

Set to graduate in a couple of weeks from SCAD in Illustration, the Chicago native was surprised to hear he’d won — though there was that Facebook post which might have helped solidify his win...

Local scenesters might also know Ahndhi from his signature Cookie Monster death metal vocals for the band MaximÜm Bastard.

The secret to his popularity with the opposite sex — he says — are his “boyish good looks” and his overall attitude towards dating.

“It’s all about the ladies,” he says with a knowing grin.

(Plus, there was something about a small, intimate boat he likes to take his dates out on, but we’re still trying to verify that...)

While Ahndhi says he’s going to stick around Savannah awhile after graduation, don’t get your hopes too far up, local ladies — he’s eventually going to return to the big city of Chicago and work his illustrative and romantic magic up there, hoping to do some design work for ad agencies. — Jim Morekis

Runner-up: Bobby Deen

Most Eligible Local Bachelorette

Courtney Victor

Victor wins again this year, despite making some headlines in US Weekly last summer with former reality TV ‘Bachelor' Charlie O'Connell.

Runner-up: Erin Wallin

Best Historic Building

Owens-Thomas House

The Telfair Museum-administered Owens-Thomas House saw a banner year last year, with over 70,000 visitors. And it's well-deserved: Not only one of the finest examples of Regency architecture in North America, the circa 1816 house museum features the first indoor plumbing in the area and a series of ingenious design aspects courtesy of architect William Jay.

This Spring saw a continuation of their occasional living history shows, a sold-out dramatization of Marquis de Lafayette's visit to Savannah in 1825. Another show with a different storyline is due up in June.

Runner-up: Juliette Gordon Low House

Best Local Revitalization

Ellis Square

Although some question the dash of modernity in the historic downtown, no one preferred the old parking garage or the fenced off dirt pile that were its predecessors.

Runner-up: Broughton Street

Best Public Space

Forsyth Park

The downtown park stepped its game up after the café and band shell opened. Sports, sunbathing, concerts, playgrounds and panhandling: This park offers something for everyone.

Runner-up: Ellis Square

Building Most in Need of Revitalization

Civic Center

The building is showing its age like polyester bellbottoms. The City is renovating bathrooms, changing carpet and repairing elevators in the old building this year, but that's only the tip of the iceberg for this building's To-Do list.

Runner-up: Sorry Charlie's

Best Neighborhood to Live In

Ardsley Park

Quaint bungalows, plenty of parks and lots of peace and quiet make this a perennial favorite, particularly with young families.

Runner-up: Downtown

Most Underrated Neighborhood

Baldwin Park

This eastern neighborhood wins for the second straight year. Once the city finishes fixing drainage issues that lead to semi-regular flooding after rainstorms, it could be in the running to win Best Neighborhood.

Runner-up: Gordonston

Best Apartment Community

Merritt at Whitemarsh

The Merritt makes a strong come back after a heartbreaking loss to The Oaks in 2010. Some people credit the change in management last year for getting the place back on track.

Runner-up: Walden at Chatham Center

Best Place to Worship

Savannah Christian Church

Over the last 47 years, SCC has developed a loyal flock. We tried to get 6,000 people to come over once a week just to see if we could do it. We couldn't.

Runner-up: The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

Best Pastor

Cam Huxford

For more than two decades, Huxford has lead the congregation at Savannah Christian Church and watched the church grow by leaps and bounds.

Runner-up: Patrick O'Brien

Best Private School

Savannah Christian Prep School

Solid academics and perennially strong sports teams (particularly their football program) helped SCPS top long-time winner Country Day this year.

Runner-up: Savannah Country Day School

Best Public School

Savannah Arts Academy

No surprise here. The only thing we can say is that while sports played no role in the Arts Academy's win, a fashion show and several successful theater productions might have.

Runner-up: Jenkins High

Best Principal/Headmaster

Mary Anne Hogan (St. Vincent's Academy)

Hogan probably deserves greater accolades than this. It's hard enough keeping one teenage girl out of trouble, let alone hundreds.

Runner-up: James Taylor

Best Tour Company

Old Town Trolley Tours

The orange and green trolleys are almost as common a sight as Paula Deen Store shopping bags. Both are popular with visitors.

Runner-up: Savannah Fun Tours

Best Wi-Fi Spot


We haven't read Starbucks' CEO Howard Schultz's new book, but we're sure he mentioned repeat wins in Best of Savannah as part of the franchise's recipe for success.

Runner-up: Gallery Espresso

Best Street Character

Forrest Gump

With his shirt buttoned up to the collar, his Bubba Gump hat and a box of chocolates in hand, John Sandifer is the most official Forrest Gump we've seen since Tom Hanks left town.

Runner-up: ‘Stop the Lie' Guy (Mr. Moody)

Best Celebrity Sighting

Robert Plant

The former Led Zeppelin front man dropped by for a visit to the Telfair’s Owens-Thomas House Museum. Turns out he’s quite the history buff.

Runner-up: Robert Redford

Best Savannah Moment in the National Spotlight

Extreme Home Makeover

The Hostess City held down a primetime slot on ABC. A lot folks put a lot of time and effort into building a new home for the Simpson family, and Ty Pennington definitely enjoyed Savannah's night life.

Runner-up: St. Patrick's Day

Best Benefit/Gala

SCAD Scholarship Gala

Helping raise money for the school's scholarship fund, this gala's silent art auction is a favorite among collectors looking to score a good deal on great work.

Runner-up: Kiss-a-Pig

RIP, Local Person You'll Miss the Most

"Hollywood" Ron Higgins

Nearly a year has passed since "Hollywood" Ron Higgins died at 45. An artist and an entrepreneur, he left an indelible mark on his hometown - not only through his successful business, Savannah Movie Tours, but through the sheer force of his huggy-bear personality.

After Higgins' sudden death of a heart attack on June 14, 2010, his family decided to keep the tour coaches running. That's when Jaime Higgins, Ron's sister and closest confidante, began to realize just how well-loved he had been in Savannah.

"Trying to replicate what he did in such a short period of time is impossible," she says. "I still get e-mails, people are still signing onto his Facebook page. He touched so many people, and I have not figured out how to do that yet.

"He just had charisma, and the personality to do that. If you asked anyone, they were all his best friends."

For the Higgins family, the hurt is healing. Slowly.

"I guess I'm getting used to it, but it's not easier," Jaime says. "I still find myself, when something happens, wanting to pick up the phone and call him. And I know I can't."

It's been especially hard on their mother, Hazel Higgins. "For Mother's Day, she said ‘Don't buy me any flowers, no presents or anything, just call each other and say I love you to each other. Call me, tell me you love me, and let me know that you guys are OK.'

"She's very cautious now, and extremely protective of us. She calls us even more now. I was in Europe for three weeks, and that freaked her out. Because if she needed to get to me, she couldn't."

Ron Higgins is buried at Bonaventure Cemetery; on June 11, the family will dedicate a small monument in a ceremony at the gravesite.

"One of his biggest things was how much he loved Savannah," Jaime says. "He traveled all over the world, he lived all over the world, and home in Savannah was always the highest priority for him.

"Making a business here, helping other businesses contribute to the city, that was the biggest thing. He really loved Savannah, and he loved to see Savannah prosper."

Ron started his first project - an on-foot guided tour of more than 70 Savannah sites used in the filming of major motion pictures - in 2003. At the time of his death, the company had several luxury coaches, a dedicated staff and eight additional tours - taking ghosts, food, literature and the like - in the historic district.

"He left a journal, and he left a business plan," explains Ron's sister. "It's kind of like he knew. We have been using it, and going by it, and anything that we do is pretty much what he was planning to do." -- Bill DeYoung

Runner-up: Dustin Dauphinee