Michelle Johnson

Publisher, Editor-In-Chief

I love my job! We have the honor of highlighting and showcasing the fantastic people and businesses of Waco. With that comes an incredible amount of pressure, you know.

It takes a lot of work making something better and better, month after month, however I am proud to say I think we did a pretty good job on this one, but only because of my team! They worked so hard from meeting with advertisers, scheduling the 200 plus photos (yes, you see that number right), to the countless hours of editing the photos, to our down to the last hour layouts, cutlines and details that no one really notices but us. It takes our small team a great effort to make this magazine and they did a remarkable job. I am so proud of them!

You might ask, “Why the heck did y’all put all of that on the cover and how did you choose?” That’s because with this issue, we are celebrating three big things: Our Best of Waco winners, Reasons to Love Waco and 30 Years of Cameron Park Zoo!

As we are out and about taking photos and visiting with advertisers, we learn so much about our community. When we were out on location taking photos, we found out that Standard Hat Works owner, Cameron Morris, is not only the maker of all of Yellowstone’s Hats but he is currently making Award Winning Country Music Star Lainey Wilson’s new one. Wow! See our list of winners on page 124.

Reasons to Love Waco is a favorite editorial piece that we do each year and our staff and contributors sent in over 140, but we narrowed it down to 54 and you are in for a treat. Bella, as seen on the cover, is one of them. Doesn’t her photo just make you smile? Gretchen Eichenberg shared with us how Bella serves up more than ice cream. Read about her and all of our reasons starting on page 138.

Cameron Park Zoo is celebrating 30 years! In our Reasons to Love Waco, several of our contributors mentioned why they loved our zoo. I was one of them too. The Wild Lights event they do at Christmas is so magical, so when we learned it was the 30th year, we thought it was only fitting to do a bigger story. We talked with Nancy Lacy, board president, about the history and future of the zoo and it was a highlight of mine this month, as Nancy and I go back to when I was at Baylor and Robert also served on the zoo board with her. It is always a great honor for me when I visit the lemur exhibit and the kids point to their dad’s name. It was also great fun for our assistant editor, Emily Ober, to pull out her own archives, an Etc. Magazine from 2000 — the year we bought it and before it became WACOAN magazine — that featured the winners of the Kid’s Zoobilee and she won! See above our cover (it was pretty awesome, and Emily’s drawing.)

Everything comes full circle around here!

There you have it. I hope you find all the ways to explore Waco, love Waco just as much as I do and find all of the Best of Waco.