As the year comes to a close, we're looking back on the top trending stories and blog posts from our website. Here are the 10 most-read items from 2016 on tampabay.com.
A month after Sen. Marco Rubio dropped out of the presidential race and a contentious primary that saw no love lost between him and then-candidate Donald Trump (remember the "little Marco" and tiny hands insults), readers paid attention when Rubio said publicly that Trump's performance had "improved significantly."
Times food critic Laura Reiley's multi-part Farm to Fable investigation exposed the way that restaurants in Tampa Bay failed to back up claims their ingredients were local, sustainable and farm-to-table, showing that "local" veggies came from the grocery store, "gulf shrimp" came frozen from India and other misleading claims. While Farm to Fable stories looked at farmers' markets, case studies and chain restaurants, it was Part One of the series, focusing on popular, local restaurants, that was most widely read.
This harrowing, interactive 3-D map of the Pulse nightclub shows "how chance and choice collided" inside the Orlando building on the night that gunman Omar Mateen killed or wounded more than 100 people. Some ducked for cover. Some ran for an exit. Some shut themselves into rooms. In the spray of bullets, lives hinged on which way they turned, who fell in front of them, where they chose to hide.
Several stories about Amy Schumer and Tampa were among this year's most read, including a post on the Tampa diss included in her new book and critic Jay Cridlin's review of her performance at Amalie Arena, but it was a post on The Buzz politics blog that expanded on one part of that review — when Donald Trump supporters walked out when Schumer started talking politics — that attracted national attention.
5. Thousands of people flew Allegiant last year thinking their planes wouldn't fail in the air. They were wrong.
This yearlong investigation found that Allegiant Air's planes were four times as likely to break down in mid-flight as other major U.S. carriers. The investigation also showed that the Federal Aviation Administration could have cracked down on Allegiant in the wake of high-profile incidents and a near-accident, but did not.
When the Powerball jackpot rose to a record-breaking $1.5 billion, plenty of people started pools to combine their resources for a greater chance of winning, but none could match the one started by Tampa residents Ryan McGuinness and Shane Krugman. They raised $146,000 for 73,000 Powerball tickets and attracted attention from around the country.
In October, the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections held a series of voter registration drives as part of the lead-up to the November election, but controversy erupted among Pinellas County democrats when Deborah Clark decided to hold them at nine local Chick-fil-A locations. The fast-food chain is known for putting faith ahead of profits and supporting conservative causes.
A Tampa Bay Times review of records showed that police were called to local Walmarts thousands of times in a single year, far more than anyplace else, and at a considerable cost to local taxpayers. The story led to questions about the stores' drain on public resources and if there is a better way to handle minor disturbances and petty thefts.
Food writer Laura Reiley's roundup of her top restaurants in categories such as casual, upscale, pizza, brunch and Asian fusion, with star ratings, price information and the ability to search by location and cuisine type, was well-read throughout the year.
10. LGBT pride flag raised after Orlando shooting 'unbearable' for Christian employee, Hillsborough commissioner says
A pride flag waving outside the Hillsborough County center was meant to be a sign of respect for the victims of the shooting at the Pulse nightclub, but became a controversy when county commissioner Stacy White's letter stating that the flag "will be nearly unbearable" for a Christian employee to walk past was published on the Bay Buzz blog.
More of the year's most-read stories: