For our Save 2020 Contest, the Star Tribune asked readers to send us a short video postcard, something funny or cheerful or inspiring to end a rough year on a hopeful note.
What we got wasn't so much TikTok virality, but touching humanity.
We got sweet personal videos of people reading poems, a guy singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" to a cat, a woman reading a children's book to her alpacas, a kid reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and a man portraying Franklin Roosevelt, assuring us that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
Some people battled the pandemic blues by singing COVID-inspired Christmas carols like "All I Want for Christmas Is a New Vaccine," or "Santa Claus Has Got COVID This Year."
We saw videos of folks dancing in the streets. But we also saw images of people cleaning up the streets after vandalism and unrest.
Here are some of our favorites:
• Rhoda Brooks was the top vote-getter in online voting for our contest after she sent us a video of her playing the cigar-box ukulele she made and singing new lyrics she wrote to "You Are My Sunshine:" "You never know how, in the time of COVID, that I can't see my grandkids any day."
The 85-year-old Excelsior resident has eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren with whom she used to sing. "Now I just sing by myself," she said.
• In his video, Steve Forslund also played the ukulele, an instrument he started to learn about four years ago when he was 60. The Chanhassen resident was practicing in the family room, when his son's cat, Penny, jumped up on the ottoman, entranced as Forslund sang "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."
"It just seemed like a sweet moment," Forslund said. "We had an experience together."
• Commercial filmmaker Patrick Pierson normally makes television ads and tourism videos. But stuck at home and experiencing "complete and utter boredom," he made a charmingly quirky film starring the knickknacks and tchotchkes in his Minneapolis apartment. The result is something he called "The Lockdown Tango."
"The message is you can do just about anything to entertain yourself," Pierson said.
• Husband and wife Todd and Gina Bridigum, of Bloomington, and their teenage son, Carson, rewrote "The Twelve Days of Christmas" as "The Twelfth Month of COVID."
" ... eight contact tracings, seven superspreaders, 6 feet of distance, nooo toiiiilet papeeeer," Todd sang as Carson played the piano.
• Cadence Graber, an 11-year-old aspiring actor from Duluth, is already a veteran performer of several musical theater productions in her town. She belted out a big-hearted a cappella version of "America the Beautiful" in the video she sent us.
• High school students in the Prelude Singer-Actor Performance Lab at the MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis remotely created a song written by Linda Hirschhorn.
"In these hard times, there will always be singing," according to the lyrics sung by Alexandra Arrell, Lillian Brasch, Grace Chapdelaine, Keena Dietz, Lucy Dunne, Peyton Erickson, Clea Gaitas-Sur, Maia Hernandez, Sydney Hendrickson, Claire Kelly, Ella Kozak, Autumn Langdon and Flannery McGreevy, Ava Paulson, Elly Ruch, Sara Shiff, Solveig Svennevig-Brosi, Marietta Wilcox and Mia Wilcox. The video was created with help from audio/visual engineer Kirk Hoaglund and Prelude directors Manon Gimlett and Thaxter Cunio.
• "Kyra Is 50!" was a video for a beloved daughter's recent virtual birthday party that included a poem written and read by her father, Anthony DiAngelis. "Zoom in to share your birthday greetings, the next best thing to a real life meeting," DiAngelis wrote, capturing what many of us had to do to maintain a connection with loved ones this year.
Kyra, who has Down syndrome, is a movie buff. Her parents, Anthony and Nina, of Golden Valley, were thinking of taking her to Hollywood to celebrate her 50th birthday, but COVID got in the way. "It still turned out to be a terrific day," Anthony DiAngelis said of his daughter's well-attended Zoom party.
Our contest was inspired by an event in 1968, another tough year, like this one. In December 1968, American astronauts orbited the moon for the first time, sending back a televised greeting from moon orbit on Christmas Eve.
After the Apollo 8 astronauts took turns reading from the Bible, commander Frank Borman concluded, "God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth."
"You saved 1968," one inspired observer later told the astronauts.
Thanks to everyone who helped us try to save 2020. And good luck to us all in 2021, all of us on the good Earth.