Words cannot ease the pain, emotional anguish and anger that we all feel following the horrific events at the country music Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas late last Sunday night, where 59 people were shot to death and more than 500 more were wounded by 64-year-old Stephen Paddock and the stampede that his high-powered assault created.

At the risk of sounding politically incorrect, our thoughts and prayers go out to all those who have suffered as a result of this latest act of senseless violence and bloodshed, eclipsing the carnage of the deadly Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando in June 2016, where 49 people died and 58 were wounded.

Images, however, are much more powerful than words in some if not most cases, possessing meanings that can be understood in different ways by any number of people, sometimes quite the opposite of what the creator of that image originally intended.

It is for this reason — to eliminate the risk of our intentions being misread at this time of great tragedy — that we decided to change this week’s Best of Pasadena cover image from that of a reinterpretation of the iconic “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign to that of a winning hand of high-stakes blackjack, our actual intent — indeed, our hope — for all PW readers.

For those unfamiliar with the history behind this week’s issue, each year we give our Best of Pasadena edition a theme. And this year’s theme, winning at life — not by exploiting tragedy, but through hard work and some luck — runs through just about every entry in each of the five categories: The Pasadena Way, Services, Shopping, Nightlife and Dining.

We open with the Pasadena Way section, where we are introduced to Sonny “Slots” Boombatz, owner of the “casino” where our Best of Pasadena party is being held this year. Sonny, reportedly the streetwise cousin of Rodney Dangerfield’s old physician, Dr. Vinny Boombatz, then introduces us, in his own inimitable way, to all of the winners for such things as being the Best Citizen, the Best Public Official, the Best Annual event, the Best Place to Worship and the Best Place of Higher Learning, among numerous other categories. Just remember, as they say before each episode of “Law & Order,” any similarities between Sonny Slots and anyone else is merely coincidental.

In the Services Section, Sonny sits out the write-up, turning it over to one of PW’s ink-stained wretches. And here we see how more hard work than chance played a role in the success of architects, accountants, physicians and even local maid and laundry service owners who are among dozens of awardees this year.

In Shopping, we once again see there’s not much gambling involved in achieving success in an area that requires a high level of artistic creativity, empathy for customers and knowledge of business and retail sales.

In Nightlife, we look at the best that Pasadena has to offer when it comes to live music, theater, film, places to drink and other ways to have a good time and celebrate all the good things life has to offer.   

Finally, we honor the hundreds of restaurants doing business in Pasadena, places just full of people who have come here from every walk of life and every corner of the planet to ply their skills in one of the most competitive markets in the state, if not the country.

As you can probably guess, we plan this extra-special issue many months in advance, picking a theme and then starting a voting process that’s more rigorous and closely watched than most municipal elections. It was at that time that we came up with the takeoff on the “Welcome to Las Vegas” for the cover image, which in view of recent events seems inappropriate right now.

Unfortunately, due to our all-consuming attention to Best of Pasadena, we are forced this one week out of the year to go without our regular news and feature sections. But rest assured that we will be back next week with stories about the Pasadena and Los Angeles connection to this tragedy, with six firefighters from Pasadena attending that concert, along with two LA firefighters, and two LA County sheriff’s employees, none of whom suffered physical injuries. One Orange County sheriff’s deputy was not so lucky, according to the Los Angeles Times, reportedly being shot in both the abdomen and thigh, but he still managed to survive as of deadline this week.

It is for these and all the other victims of this heinous act that we pray and wish them all the very best in their respective struggles for closure and recovery.