CLEVELAND — 2021 has been a year for the books.
After a tumultuous 2020, many looked for hope and a new beginning in 2021. While the year wasn't exclusively filled with highs, we are happy to report that the year was filled with moments that not only shocked but excited! Check out our compilation of some of the biggest stories from 2021!
What a glorious start to the year it was for Cleveland football fans! The team took on the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field, 24-22. The team later went on to lose against the Kansas City Chiefs, but the playoff was a high that many will be riding for years.
Jan. 6: Insurrection at the Capitol
It was a moment in American history that will not soon be forgotten. All eyes were on Washington D.C. as rioters took to the U.S. Capitol building, protesting the November 2020 presidential election and the then-President-elect, Joe Biden.
While the vaccine slowly rolled out across the country, here in Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine got to work to ensure that vaccine doses would not go to waste. Within weeks of shipments from the federal government being delivered, DeWine announced that Cleveland State's Wolstein Center would open to the public for the purpose of mass vaccinations.
"Play ball!" After a gruesome year away from Cleveland's baseball stadium, fans of the team formerly known as the Indians were welcomed back to Progressive Field in early April, with the team starting what would then be their last home-opener with their previous moniker.
It was a case that sparked a conversation and a movement. Near the end of April, the world watched as former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was told his fate in the murder trial of George Floyd. Chauvin was found guilty by a jury and sentenced to more than 22 years in prison.
April 29: NFL Draft weekend kicks off in Cleveland
The NFL Draft put the spotlight on Cleveland as thousands showed up and showed out to watch their favorite football teams pick the new players that would help define the upcoming season. The Draft was also notable because for the first time in years, the Cleveland Browns did not have a top pick!
A good friend (and former WKYC employee) paid 3News a visit in early May! "TODAY" Anchor Al Roker joined the GO! team for TODAY's "Reopening America" series, highlighting some of the ways that cities across the U.S. were working towards reopening after more than a year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Just days after Al stopped in to say hello, the WKYC family welcomed a new face to Cleveland! Lester Holt and NBC Nightly News swung into town for the "Across America" series, showing off GOJO and the economic impact that the Northeast Ohio business has had on restarting the economy and keeping people safe throughout the pandemic.
Who wants to be a millionaire? That question was answered by the more than 2.7 million Ohioans who entered the state's Vax-a-Million contest! On Wednesday, May 25, Ohio chose Abbigail Bugenske, a Northeast Ohio native, as the first $1 million winner. Joseph Costello of Englewood won the state's first full-ride scholarship.
After a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Olympics returned with heightened health and safety protocols to protect the athletes. Northeast Ohio athletes faired well, including Olmsted Falls' Katie Nageotte, who took gold in pole vaulting.
Possibly the biggest headline in the world of Northeast Ohio sports in 2021, every person in Cleveland stopped briefly on July 23 to hear the beautiful voice of Tom Hanks announce the new name of the city's baseball team. The reaction was not entirely well-received, but nevertheless, come April, the team will henceforth be known as the Cleveland Guardians.
While the games were filled with big moments, no moment struck so close to so many as when Olympian and Ohio native Simone Biles decided to take a step back from several events to focus on her mental health. The move sparked a conversation about the pressure put on athletes and the toll that the pressure can take.
In late October, the FDA approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for five to 11-year-olds, paving the way for millions of American children to receive the lowered dose of the coronavirus vaccine.
On November 2, Justin Bibb became the second youngest person to ever be elected to the position of mayor of Cleveland.
"The work is just beginning," the mayor-elect said. "Tonight we will celebrate, and tomorrow we are going to roll up our sleeves and do the hard work of moving our city forward, in a better direction."
MORE YEAR IN REVIEW PIECES FROM WKYC: