I would say 2020 is my least favorite year of all time, even for stories. Nonetheless, I chose from among hundreds hoping to strike a balance between people who did the little things to make us smile and the issues that have simmered for decades in a cauldron that finally reached the boiling point.

Amid the death of George Floyd, a new generation of activists revealed themselves in Kenosha and with this their call to defund police, unafraid and angry at the systemic racism that continues to brew. They got the attention of seasoned activists, energized once again to have those discussions, and of local elected officials who are finally paying attention.

Seeing Kenosha burning in all directions during the riots that followed Jacob Blake’s shooting left many speechless. Me included. I chose this story more for how it unfolded not in words, but in pictures. That night left an indelible mark. Aside from the memory of the Danish Brotherhood exploding before me, I still have scars on my knees, elbows and knuckles from taking the photos.

Speaking of photos, retired police Sgt. Cindy Frederickson had a talent for photography that I never really knew of until her death this year. While she put away the worst of criminals, her friends told me she chose to train her lens on the beauty of Kenosha, its landscapes and its people.

Thanks to our photographer Sean Krajacic, I had the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving morning at work by the lake to tell the tale of the late Terri McAuliffe’s once secret holiday gift to the community. Her husband Steve recalled how his wife decorated a tree along Kennedy Drive with Christmas ornaments to prank him. That prank turned into an annual tradition that McAuliffe and his daughter, Katie, will continue in her honor.

Early in the year, Michael Serpe, the long-time Pleasant Village Board member retired from elected office after more than three decades and reflected on the development of this sleepy agrarian community into a bustling 21st Century village. Being a gardener, however, I liked hearing about how he’d have more time to tend to his vegetables and to pay attention to his daughter’s friendly, but vocal Goldendoodle. I can still feel Sadie’s tail whacking at my knee.

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