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Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

Owing perhaps to the timing of our Aspen’s Best poll, “bears” were the hands-down winner in this race. Black bears are raiding Aspenites’ garbage on a daily basis this summer, and clearly readers have strong opinions and strong emotions about hungry bears, their attraction to human food and the euthanization of so-called problem bears. Hungry bruins were likely banging on the doors of respondents’ homes as they filled out their surveys.

Still, this question always gets some interesting responses. After all, one person’s news is another person’s fish wrap.

Other vote-getters in this category included the Aspen mayor’s race, the Pitkin County sheriff’s race and “brown van,” which we take to mean the stories about homeless Aspenites Jane Patterson and Michael O’Gara, who lived in and then crashed their rolling residence.

Other readers showed their preference for avian stories, such as “bird that started a fire” and “Holly McLain killing geese.”

Others mentioned stories they’d apparently like to see: “Legalize It.”

Readers responded with no fewer than 32 best things about Aspen and, of course, they ran the gamut from the highly specific ” Big Wrap, the columbine flower ” to the very general ” beauty, snow, sun.

So, this is kind of a hard one to figure. Is “beauty” the same thing as “views”? Does “environment” overlap with “fresh air”?

We decided to handle this one very literally. When people said the same thing, we counted their votes that way. And the winners, in a tie with nine votes each, were “the mountains” and “the weather.”

Coming in close behind were “the people,” “skiing” and “the outdoors.”

“Offseason” garnered a few votes, as did “summer.”

We agree with almost all of these best things about Aspen, with the exception of “leaving,” “S-curves” and “traffic.”

This one’s getting too obvious.

“Powder Day” crushed all competitors in this category with 41 votes, although readers cast ballots for 22 other excuses that got anywhere from one to nine votes apiece.

Among them were “car won’t start,” “child sick,” “scabies/mono,” “sleeping in,” and “hangover.”

“Stuck at DIA” got a few guffaws, and “Got Laid ” can’t get up” won the goofy prize (sorry, no money or freebies attached).

No offense to Aspen Youth Experience, but somebody must have stuffed the ballot box on this one. Still, the numbers speak for themselves.

Aspen Celebrity Downhill, the annual fundraiser for AYE, got 42 votes, outpacing even the Jazz Aspen Snowmass music festival, which attracts thousands more spectators every summer than the Celebrity Downhill could dream of.

So, how a nonprofit fundraiser could outpace a marquee music event with big-name talent is a bit of a mystery. Maybe our vote-counters forgot to take their meds.

The Celebrity Downhill also crushed heavy-hitting events like the Aspen Music Festival, the Aspen Ideas Festival, the Food and Wine Magazine Classic, the world-famous X Games and the Chili Pepper and Brew Fest in Snowmass Village.

Go figure.

We had another tie in this category, with recently elected Mayor Mick Ireland and the new Silver Queen Gondola cars finishing neck and neck.

Other vote-getters included the expanded Rio Grande Trail, the Grateful Deli sandwich shop, the free bus to Snowmass, and “Snowmass Village” itself, which we take to mean the chairlift improvements and still-unfinished construction of Base Village.

Puzzling entries include “As far as I can tell the idiot tourist are still here” and “don’t change it, pricks!”