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Editor's picks: 12 News' favorite stories of 2016

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Every year, the 12 News digital and social staff covers hundreds (maybe thousands?) of stories that affect people in Arizona and around the country.

As we look back on 2016, we wanted to re-share some of our favorite stories from the year. From trendy to serious, silly to inspirational, here are a few of the things we'll remember.

MORE: 2016 year-in-review coverage

Hayden Packwood: Mom sends napkin art in every lunch

To me, this is one of the most incredible stories of a mother’s love for her child. I think as kids growing up, whether we mean to or not, we can take our moms for granted. This story just shows the length some moms will go to to make us happy. A simple napkin drawing makes her daughter smile, so this Valley mom does it every single day.

Mike Nowels: Arizona rooster runs around in pants

My favorite story of the year was about pants. Poultry pants, to be specific.

Charlie the rooster lives in Prescott. He has pants, which is not normal for a rooster. It’s no complicated story -- just watch Charlie run in his pants and you’ll understand. He brought some levity to a year that needed it often.

Charles Gray: 1.2M goldfish go into Tempe Town Lake

As part of a plan to bring the recently-drained Tempe Town Lake back to life, officials brought over a million goldfish in from Arkansas as the first new residents of the restored lake. Cute, sure. But also eco-friendly: The fish are a chemical-free alternative for controlling pesky midge flies. Game fish were added later.

So much of the news can be about the negative things affecting our lives and communities. This story was not only positive in a civic sense, but just fun. "Want to see 1.2 million goldfish poured into a lake?" they asked.  "Why yes," we said. "Yes we do." 

Robby Baker: Deer Valley HS star overcomes past

If you're looking for inspiration, look no further than Ilian Roberts. The Deer Valley football and track star has been through more in his 17 years than most have to overcome in an entire lifetime. Through it all, his underdog spirit and positive outlook have helped him get where he his today.

Gina Coy and Yolanda Garcia: Grandma sends accidental Thanksgiving invite

Out of nowhere, this non-news package is probably the best ‘when virtual strangers collide story.’ A mistaken tweet sent to a wrong number results in a Phoenix teen spending part of his Thanksgiving with another family.

Gina: This mistaken text invite happened after a very dramatic political election making us all realize: it may be "what grandmas do" but it’s really something we should all do – come together.

Yolanda: At a time when the country is dealing racial and religious tension, two strangers who happen to be an African-American teenager and a white woman connect by mistake. They meet for the first time and hug as human beings, not caring about the color of their skin. As the grandma said, their interaction is giving people “faith in humanity again” -- very much needed nowadays.

Elizabeth Wiley: Blind kids learn using donated shopping carts

It's hard to imagine living without sight, the skills you would need to learn, the simple life tasks made more difficult. But thanks to a Valley Trader Joe's the kids at the Foundation for Blind Children are already learning how to shop for groceries.

And researching this story taught me the important work the foundation does. In fact, only 5 percent of their students end up on unemployment, while nationally, that number stands at 70 percent. Pretty impressive work!

Mackenzie Concepcion: Tucson couple celebrate 80 years of marriage

A couple in Tucson celebrated 80 years of marriage in May, making them one of the longest-married couples in the U.S.

OK, I’ll admit it, I’m not generally a huge fan of love stories. But Jim and Noni Saunders shared an adorable, funny story about how they made up after an argument that makes me crack a smile each time I read it. 

Cole Conley: Top secret history of mysterious X's in Arizona desert

I am fascinated with the state of Arizona and everything it has to offer, which led to my investigation of these mysterious markings. To think that they were used for a top secret project during the Cold War is incredibly intriguing.

The Arizona desert can claim some credit for the national security of our country. And, as a bonus, it's almost a treasure hunt to go find the X's that still remain.

Anne Stegen: People won't shut up about Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go changed gaming in 2016. The uninitiated public groaned every time a new PoGo story was posted on social media or aired on TV, but players were a part of something special. Public spaces were given new life as players gathered, looking for Pokemon. Parks were filled with people who hadn't previously explored their cities.

While the main activity happened on a phone, it was far from anti-social. People worked together to find Pokemon, worked together to take down gyms, or just gave a small nod to someone others silently playing. Pokemon Go was a great thing to come out of 2016.

Gabe Trujillo: Officer nails Beyonce's 'Formation' at pep rally

Virginia police officer Deuntay Diggs wowed the crowd at a high school with his flawless dance performance to Beyoncé's "Formation." Students filmed his performance during the pep rally and it didn't take long for the internet to fall in love with his dance moves.

This story shows that many officers are just like us. While the news was filled with stories on police shootings and other violent incidents with officers, we need to remember that these officers have families and are human too. And this story was a perfect example of that. Just like many of us, when Beyoncé comes on, they too can't help but dance.

Copyright 2016 KPNX


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