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View of downtown Chattanooga's riverfront.

Vote Chattanooga as best town ever

Click here to vote

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The cover of the October issue of Outside Magazine teases the "Where to Live Now" story featuring Chattanooga.
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Boon has mounted a social media campaign to defeat Chattanooga in the competition for best town ever.

Chattanooga is in the running for the best outdoor city in the history of the free world, or something like that. It may be the best city in the history of mankind, who knows.

Apparently our fine city is in the quarterfinals of Outside Magazine's contest, standing opposite of Boone, N.C., which is home to the Appalachian State Mountaineers and may or may not have been named for Otter's love-struck sidekick in "Animal House."

While the kind folks in Boone have decided to try to rally their troops and make a late charge on the social media voting of this quarterfinal match-up, in truth, that seems beneath us.

Sure, if you want to vote, there are a plethora of ways to reach out on social media. Go to the Facebook page of this paper and find a link. Go to Twitter. Heck, there likely is an Atari game or a Super Mario Bros. link for you older types. (Side note: If you need to call your kids or grandkids when you need to reset your cable box, just go here and follow the directions.

So vote. Or don't. It's really kind of juvenile when you weigh the surroundings and the evidence and the need for hashtag approval. Maybe #wearekindofcooltoo would work for Boone?

Chattanooga won this competition in 2011, and to think that Boone would deserve to beat us is staggeringly simplistic.

Regardless of how the vote goes, will the Ironman pick up and move to Boone? Will the U.S. Cycling nationals that are in town this weekend? Will the Head of the Hooch, which is named for a river in Atlanta but loves coming to Chattanooga?

Of course not, because those folks know what we know. And we know it regardless of how some online popularity vote goes.

Chattanooga certainly does not need the stamp of approval from a magazine to affirm our belief of how great an outdoor city this is.

Heck, at one time we were aiming to be the Boulder of the East. Now Boulder wants to be the Chattanooga of the Rockies.

When it comes to outdoor distinction, we do not need to belittle ourselves in a Twitter battle with the likes of Boone, N.C. for crying out loud. That would be like Meryl Streep begging for social media support against Kim Kardashian for a Twitter Emmy or something.

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The Tennessee River snakes around Moccasin Bend in this view of Chattanooga from Point Park on Lookout Mountain.

Boone? PUH-lease. Chattanooga was making its outdoor bones while Boone was looking for a city version of a sippee-cup.

So go ahead and vote and tell everyone what we already know. Chattanooga is the outdoor Michael Jordan.

It's almost our American duty to share the knowledge of Chattanooga's greatness.

Think about it. On this national holiday weekend when the U.S. cycling eyes are fixed on us — relax Boone, we're sure the USA Cycling knows who you are maybe you can hit them up on Twitter — the proof is more evident than the process.

Would the downtown folks and the Outdoor Chattanooga folks love for you to vote? Of course they would.

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Aerial view of Coolidge Park and the Tennessee River in Chattanooga.

It would mean advancing to the Final Four. It would mean getting the recognition from a national magazine that all of those folks covet, and truth be told, probably deserve.

But, whether Chattanooga wins or not does not change the simple fact that our lovely city is the champ with or without the belt.

So rally your troops, Boone, and make sure all of you get out the vote with your 19,000 citizens and your secret alliances with other cities. (Seriously, secret pacts with other burgs? Did you guys pinky swear and everything?)

It's cool, everyone understands. You want to be us.

You want the title. Chattanooga's happy simply being the best, whether the online voting concurs or not.

Thanks to the efforts of our outdoors folks and a multitude of others, the Convention and Visitors Bureau recently said our annual tourism generated $1 billion — yes, that's a billion with a 'B' just like a lot words like, bouldering and backpacking and bicycling and even Boone — last year.

In truth, the hard-cash evidence carries more weight to me than some online vote. Do you think Elvis or the American Idol winner is a bigger star?

Exactly.

Relax, Boone, this is not your fault. You're swinging for the fences, and that's cool and commendable.

But this is the great outdoors, and there is no place greater in Chattanooga — regardless what the likes of Facebook or the hashtags say.

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Sunset on Nickajack Lake offers a chance to see thousands of endangered gray bats emerge from a nearby cave to start their nightly feeding. Outdoor Chattanooga will host family canoe trips to Nickajack Cave from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Fridays through Aug. 15 to witness this summertime ritual.
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Aerial shows downtown Chattanooga, the Aquarium, Market Street Bridge, Tennessee River and the Bluff View district.
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Erik Graper and wife Claire Vassort own Fly This, the air trike company that is giving adventurers a new view of Chattanooga.
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