See the winner of our 2023 Picture of the Year contest

The votes are in for the LALtoday 2023 Picture of the Year contest. Check out the finalists below, including the winner that you, our readers, voted for.

A City of Lakeland worker holds a net out of a boat to catch a white swan that's flapping away as part of the Swan Roundup. The worker lays on their stomach and leans off the front of the small fishing boat, holding the large net with both hands.

Swan Roundup. Lake Morton. Lakeland, Fla. Oct. 10, 2023. (C. Tom Hagerty)

Photo submitted by Reader Tom H.

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Who knew there were so many talented photographers in Lakeland? You all submitted 160+ photos for our 2023 Picture of the Year contest and — we must admit — narrowing it down to just six finalists was tough. Congratulations to our winner, photographer Tom H., who received the most votes from readers. Keep scrolling to see the other five finalists.

Winner: Swan Roundup by Tom H.

Who doesn’t love an action shot? This photographer captured one of Lakeland’s most exciting annual events, the Swan Roundup. City workers + veterinarians work together to check the swans’ health each year.

The retro Southgate Shopping Center sign and parking lot shot at dusk. The sign is framed by a tree and the corner of a restaurant building.

Driving Past an Icon

Photo submitted by Reader Calyssa S.

Finalist: Southgate Shopping Center by Calyssa S.

The Southgate sign is a staple of Lakeland’s culture, and this film-style photo gives us all the retro vibes. It also has us thinking of the movies that have used the sign as a backdrop.

A staircase with a ornate stone handrails lead up to Hollis Garden. The garden is lit by sun and filled with palm trees and flowers.

Hollis Garden

Photo submitted by Bob K.

Finalist: Hollis Garden by Bob K.

This photo reminds us of sunny days spent around the Frances Langford Promenade. If it has you in the mood for exploring too, Hollis Garden is free to visit Tuesday-Sunday.

Light shines through the branches of a large oak tree into a clearing at Circle B Bar Reserve. Moss hangs from the tree branches, and palm fronds line the clearing.

Spotlight @ Circle B

Photo submitted by Reader Alexander M.

Finalist: Circle B Bar Reserve by Alexander M.

If you’ve hiked through this former cattle ranch, you know that it’s full of picturesque spots. It looks like this photographer found a peaceful place in the oak hammock. Find it on the Shady Oak Trail, a 1.3-mile trek.

A timelapse photo of the exterior of the Polk Theater at night. The marquee sign is lit with blinking lights, and car lights streak by the front door.

Now Showing at the Polk Theater

Photo submitted by Reader Jasson P.

Finalist: Polk Theatre by Jasson P.

Here’s what you might see after a showing of your favorite classic movie at this nearly 100-year-old theater. Over the years, it’s hosted movie premieres, weekly showings, and big-time performances.

A group of baby alligators sit on an adult alligator's back in the water at Circle B Bar Reserve. The photo is framed by green leaves and branches.

Baby gator party at Circle B Bar Reserve

Photo submitted by Reader Ethan C.

Finalist: Alligator family by Ethan C.

This photographer captured a rare sight: baby alligators sunning on the back of another alligator. We’re just hoping this picture was taken from a safe distance.

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