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2020: Through the lens of Arizonans

Here are the good, the bad and the ugly moments of 2020 in Arizona captured through the lenses of Arizonans.
Credit: @raycleveland via Instagram

ARIZONA, USA — It’s a tradition that at the end of each year we take a look back and reflect on what happened: the good, the bad and the ugly. In order to learn from the bad and appreciate the good, this tradition may be especially important in a year that, for many, seems to be made up mostly of the ugly.

The coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly dominated people’s lives and the news cycle this year. Add to that the civil unrest over the summer that many big cities and small towns across the U.S. experienced and combine it with a contentious presidential election and 2020 could be considered exceptionally ugly.

But it wasn’t all ugly. Really, it wasn't!

The good moments may have been smaller and quieter, but upon reviewing the 12 News Instagram to see all the Arizona moments captured by Arizonans in 2020, there was quite a lot of source material for the good.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then here are thousands and thousands of words told through the eyes, or more accurately the lenses, of Arizonans about the good, the bad, the ugly, the small moments and the big moments of what happened in Arizona in 2020.

January 2020

2020 really did start out as a year of hope. Arizonans welcomed 2020 with all the usual joy and sparkle that comes with each new year.

Credit: @raycleveland via Instagram

And before the world knew it needed it, this moment of literal levity was captured while at the London Bridge in Lake Havasu, AZ.

Credit: @kannew2 via Instagram

Something bizarre was in the air in Snowflake, Arizona in January. The purple glow in the night sky is speculated to have been caused by "LED grow lights from the nearby medical marijuana farm, Copperstate Farms, and snow clouds overhead," according to the Navajo County Facebook page.

Credit: Cara Smith

The tragic and sudden passing of Kobe Bryant was a painful loss for many across the world. For those who met Kobe, like Hillcrest Prep senior point guard Dalen Terry, Bryant's legacy will follow them throughout their lives.

Credit: Dalen Terry
Dalen Terry met Kobe Bryant when he was in Gilbert in December 2019 to coach his daughter's team.

February 2020

Spring sprung early in February and brought the wildflowers with it. This tranquil sea of flowers was captured in Apache Junction.

Credit: @travelnuttie via Instagram

The 72nd Annual Wickenburg Gold Rush Days Rodeo (probably one of the most Arizona things you can do) went off without a hitch. A cowgirl was captured carrying the Arizona flag around the ring on horseback.

Credit: @transplanted.yankee via Instagram

President Trump visited Phoenix for the first time in 2020 on Feb. 19. The Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum was filled to capacity with supporters. Thousands more watched the rally from outside the Coliseum. Anti-Trump protesters lined the street opposite the Coliseum during the rally.

Credit: 12 News

Given how little it rains in Arizona, rainbows are pretty rare. This stunning shot was captured in Chino Valley, Arizona. It showcases the majesty of quiet moments that can only happen in Arizona.

Credit: @boblarsonphoto via Instagram

March 2020

Only a couple of weeks after President Trump's visit to the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Bernie Sanders held a rally there hoping to become the Democratic Party's nominee for president. Supporters lined up early to see Sanders speak.

Credit: 12 News

Not long after the Bernie Sanders rally, the coronavirus pandemic became a reality for Arizonans. Store shelves were quickly cleared of essential items, most notably toilet paper. This duo was in the east Valley handing out toilet paper and spreading kindness.

Credit: 12 News

An east Valley psychologist, Dr. Nancy Yeamans, used her front yard to uplift others in her neighborhood during the early days of the pandemic. Arizonans would perform many small acts of kindness towards their neighbors and communities throughout 2020.

Credit: 12 News

The coronavirus pandemic brought with it mass layoffs and an increased need for food banks. 50 members of Arizona's National Guard helped out at St. Mary's Food Bank in Phoenix when a majority of St. Mary's volunteers stayed home during the pandemic.

Credit: St. Mary's Food Bank

April 2020

As March turned into April, a stay-at-home order was still in effect in Arizona. Only a few weeks in, the tedious nature of the pandemic and the order was getting to people. But Suzi Hann Lucero‎ caught a good friend spreading an important message: Hope.

Credit: Suzi Hann Lucero

The Grand Canyon National Park closed to all non-residents. The people who live and work there expressed concern that their small community couldn't handle a coronavirus outbreak.

Credit: 12 News

Arizona claimed some normalcy by celebrating Easter. Of course, Arizonans decorated in only a way Arizonans can: with a cactus Easter Bunny. 

Credit: Damon Hanson

The Hopi village of Moenkopi erected a makeshift sign letting non-residents know that the village was closed. Additionally, the Navajo Nation closed its borders to non-residents to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Credit: @gilhonanie via Instagram

Empty city streets became the new normal, including in downtown Phoenix. People described images of deserted city streets like this one as "haunting" or "unnerving" to look at.

Credit: @chardarr via Instagram

May 2020

Record-setting heat that would consume almost all parts of Arizona and most of 2020 began in earnest in May. Humans definitely weren't walking outside without shoes on and neither were dogs.

Credit: Jackie Waldrop‎

High school graduations looked very different in 2020 because of the pandemic. Despite having to forgo the pomp and circumstance, the graduates were still just as excited to receive their diplomas and turn their tassels.

Credit: Buckeye Union High School District

Governor Ducey's stay-at-home order expired on May 15, just in time for the Memorial Day holiday. Arizonans took advantage and packed onto the beaches of Lake Havasu.

Credit: April Stevens

That same Memorial Day weekend a Black man, George Floyd, was killed while being taken into police custody in Minneapolis. His death, along with others, sparked a wave of protests across the U.S. and in Phoenix that lasted several weeks.

Credit: Cameron LaFontaine

June 2020

Mass protests over racial inequality and police brutality stretched into June. Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams walked with protesters and said, "You have forced us to hear you."

Credit: 12 News

The first wave of the coronavirus pandemic didn't truly hit Arizona until the summer. The famous Gilbert Water Tower sported a mask to remind everyone to do their part in helping stop the spread of COVID-19.

Credit: Twitter/@GilbertYourTown

Two openly gay pilots led a Pride Flight at Luke Air Force Base to honor LGBTQ service members. Maj. Tyler McBride and Capt. Justin Lennon's commander was enthusiastic about the history-making flight. McBride and Lennon instructed students during the successful flight.

Credit: 12 News

July 2020

By July, it was hot. Like, really hot. It hadn't rained in months and everyone was trying to find a way to cool off, including Hazel.

Credit: Jennifer Scheans Johnson

An out-of-this-world shot of the comet NEOWISE was captured shooting over the mountains of Tonto National Forest. Arizona is the perfect place for star gazing and this image shows why.

Credit: Niccole Neely

After 103 days of no rain, the Valley finally got some measurable rainfall. The dry spell lasted over three months, tying for the 21st-longest dry streak in Phoenix since 1895.

Credit: Christopher Cates

A derailed train and fire on the Tempe Town Lake bridge broke out just after 6 a.m. on July 29. A hazardous chemical leak was later discovered around the area when the bridge had collapsed.

Credit: Jacob Vaughn

August 2020

A red sun made an appearance in early August in Arizona. Smoke from a Southern California wildfire drifted over to Arizona and gave an eerie look to the sun.

Credit: Michael Bober

If you're from Arizona, and especially the Valley, you know that a monsoon storm is often preceded by a haboob. A menacing looking one rolled through the desert near the I-8 in August, ahead of one of the few storms of Monsoon 2020.

Credit: @niccolester via Instagram

Because rain was so rare in 2020 every photo capturing a storm is precious. One of the few monsoon 2020 storms brought rain and lightening to the Granite Mountains.

Credit: Steve Copen

September 2020

There was magic in the air in September, literally. David Blaine made a trip to the Grand Canyon where he performed his "Ascension" stunt that had him floating 24,000 feet above Arizona. He landed safely in the desert near Page, Arizona.

Credit: 12 News

Has it already been mentioned that it was hot in Arizona in 2020? Because it really was! The record-breaking heat carried through into September and is almost palpable in this image.

Credit: @arizonaphotoadventures via Instagram

California wildfires brought a red sun to Arizona in August and hazy skies in September. The smoke from the wildfires lingered in the skies of Phoenix. Many remarked on how the haze made 2020 feel like an apocalypse was truly upon us.

Credit: Michele Dillard

October 2020

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the Gilbert Water Tower was lit up purple in support. The Town of Gilbert encouraged others to show their support for ending domestic violence by lighting up their own home or business purple.

Credit: Marilee Keller Ade

Early voting for the 2020 general election began in October in Arizona. The pandemic caused fears that the U.S. postal service wouldn't be able to deliver the expected influx of ballots, also due to the pandemic, so official ballot drop boxes were set up to collect ballots.

Credit: 12 News

Arizona saw it's fair share of wildfires in 2020 and they continued into late October. The Horse Fire in the Prescott National Forest burned just under 10,000 acres. Communities near the area were evacuated for a time, luckily no structures were damaged or destroyed.

Credit: Karen Garcia

The first snow of the season fell in the High Country in late October. Heat records wouldn't stop breaking until well into November but Eager, Arizona lucked out and saw an early winter wonderland.

Credit: Jeremie Zebell

November 2020

On November 3, 2020 people across the country prepared to go to the polls and cast their votes in the general election. Arizonans got in the democratic spirit by dressing up cacti in red, white and blue.

Credit: Lloyd Ferguson

Election night watch parties looked very different in 2020. The pandemic forced some watch parties to go virtual and in-person attendance was a fraction of the size of watch parties from previous years. MAGA hats sat on empty seats during an election watch party in Chandler.

Credit: AP Photo/Matt York

The last heat record broken in 2020 was on Nov. 17 when it was 92 degrees in Phoenix, beating the old record of 87 degrees. Luckily, there was a steady cool down after that which allowed one Arizonan to chill her wine in the pool.

Credit: Rachael Johnson

December 2020

'Camelback Santa' and the 'Camelback Christmas Tree' are a uniquely Phoenix tradition. Some alterations had to be made this year, like no candy canes on the tree, but the joy it brings was much needed as COVID-19 cases steadily began to rise in Arizona in December.

Credit: Camelback Culture

Another 100+ days without rain in the Valley was finally broken in mid-December. The Valley hadn't seen any measurable rain for 110 days.

Credit: Jackie Waldrop

The COVID-19 vaccine made it to Arizona in mid-December. Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ and a handful of healthcare workers were among the first people in Arizona to get the vaccine.

Credit: 12 News

And finally, for the first time in nearly 800 years, Saturn and Jupiter lined up to create one bright light or a 'Christmas star.' The two planets align about every 20 years, but it was the first time since the Middle Ages they they appeared close enough to each other for the alignment to be seen here on Earth.

Credit: Herber Lopez

For our list of the top 12 stories of 2020 checkout our YouTube playlist:

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