Every December, I look forward to revisiting everything that made the news during the previous twelve months.
My process is largely the same in writing each respective ‘Year in Review’ piece: a hot cup of coffee, a few cracks of the knuckles and neck, and the rest of my day’s tasks temporarily shelved until I’ve managed to sufficiently highlight and spotlight everything that happened that year.
It’s something that I enjoy, and I hope readers enjoy revisiting everything that happened in their community. I hope those bullet-pointed highlights invoke fond memories, or that they make you think, or that they even perhaps make you aspire for a better tomorrow.
Encompassing the events of January to December of 2020, my 'Year in Review' piece clocked in at a total of 7,536 words, the longest that this annual retrospective feature has ever been. Past editions of this feature have run the gamut of 4,000 to 5,000 words, and maybe in years where things weren’t crazy busy, they may have dipped down to 3,500 to 3,999 words, but not this year. Nope, there it is – 7,536 words. A record that I’m not entirely confident will be reached again.
I find this high number to be particularly interesting due to the fact that a viral pandemic took hold of the province in early March and only seemed to tighten its grip for the rest of the year. That tight grip would go on to affect all manner of public events and restrict what we could and couldn't do for the lion's share of 2020.
But despite the pandemic, it seems as if the people, the places, and the events of Outlook and the surrounding area still provided a mountain of headlines and interesting stories in the last twelve months. That's incredible to me. We found ways to continue enjoying our lives and fostering a healthy quality of life in our communities, pandemic be damned.
Resiliency truly was the theme of the past year. At least, that’s coming from my perspective as the guy tasked with covering what goes on in our cozy little part of the world.
When we couldn’t gather as much, we relied on technology to keep us connected.
When businesses had to close their doors or severely limit their capacity to the general public, they adapted and came up with online ordering and curbside pickup. In some cases, this may have meant even more financial success by giving people more options to shop. We became a lot more ‘vocal about local’ and tried steering people away from the big box stores, and luckily, we’re still doing that.
When people weren’t sure where to turn for crucial, up to date information on many local businesses, an Outlook-specific page on Facebook helped provide an outlet to see how stores and businesses were offering their goods and services.
When we reminded ourselves of our most vulnerable citizens during this time, a heart-tugging Mother’s Day parade was organized in Outlook to spread some love and produce some smiles at seniors’ residences.
When it seemed that there were no options for people to enjoy a swimming pool as facilities such as Rosetown, Kenaston and Davidson’s weren’t going to open in 2020, Outlook’s pool moved forward on opening on Canada Day under a whole bunch of new protocols and guidelines. Those measures didn’t seem to matter all that much to people looking to cool off; the line outside the Van Raay & Community Swimming Pool stretched out the door and down the entirety of the sidewalk.
When birthday parties had to sit on the shelf for the time being, we came up with drive-by celebrations to make our youngest citizens feel extra special. Is your kid celebrating a big day this Saturday? Awesome. Throw up a message on Facebook with a couple days notice and wait for the cavalry to arrive, honking out birthday greetings and maybe even an appearance by our local RCMP and firefighters.
When high school graduation events couldn’t proceed as they typically do with award ceremonies and banquets, we changed things up and held community-wide parades. Staff at Dinsmore Composite School knocked it out of the park by going one step further and holding mini ceremonies for their grads at their homes, and the sight of all the graduates of Outlook High School being paraded around town while seated on bleachers installed on a flatbed was certainly a sight to see.
When standard community Christmas events couldn’t move forward, we produced a magnificent and spirit-inducing drive-thru attraction that brought people from all over and raised almost $10,000 for Outlook’s local park.
See what I mean? We’re a people that if you tell us we can’t do something, we give you a complacent nod before simply turning around and making something arguably better. Those kids are going to remember those drive-by birthdays for a very long time. Those graduating students who were the focal point of parades are going to take to heart the fact that entire communities came out to wish them well in the next stage of their lives.
I can only hope that this trend of interesting news and captivating stories continues and heightens in 2021. If the pandemic lessens and we start to approach as close to ‘normal’ as we can get, I think it’s highly likely.
Thank you for putting your trust in me to cover all of these stories and events that make up life in our little chunk of the world. It's a responsibility that I don't take lightly, and if you'll allow me, I'll keep going "til the wheels fall off."
For this week, that’s been the Ruttle Report.