Photos of the Year 2021

From surviving a pandemic to bringing home the Olympic gold, a look back at some of the moments captured by Star Tribune photojournalists in 2021.
After family matriarch Juanita Moran fell ill with the coronavirus last winter, her family prepared for the worst and rallied around her, even as they battled the virus themselves. The seven children, including Rebecca Cusick, provided round-the-clock care, which included a bedtime routine of praying the rosary. “When I pray, I feel so much better,” Juanita said. They are all healthy again, and Juanita just celebrated her 100th birthday.
Emajay Driver, a close friend of Daunte Wright, sat near a memorial for Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota on April 11, the night Wright was shot and killed by ex-Brooklyn Center police officer Kimberly Potter during a traffic stop.
People protest outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department in response to the fatal police shooting of Daunte Wright, Wednesday, April 14, 2021 in Brooklyn Center, Minn. Former Brooklyn Center police officer Kimberly Potter was charged with second-degree manslaughter after the shooting.
Paris Page embraced her daughter Genyria, 9, during a prayer vigil at North Memorial hospital after three children were shot in the last week in Minneapolis, Minn., on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. Page is Ladavionne Garrett Jr.’s cousin, one of the three children shot.
Gov. Tim Walz, along with Commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Health Jan Malcolm, were confronted by a man who opposed their policies as they toured a facility where COVID-19 vaccines were being administered to people with appointments Thursday at the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center.
David Simonson struggled to breath while sick with COVID-19 in North Memorial’s South Seven Intensive Care Unit in September. “I’ve had 2 heart attacks, 4 strokes, diabetes... I never got the shot and these people saved me,” said David Simonson, of Minneapolis. “I’m stupid.” “I would get a shot. I would tell everybody to get a shot. I don’t wish this on anybody in the world. It’s the worst thing in the world to go through.” Simon said while struggling for each breath. “I should have been a dead guy but they saved me.” Simonson died a few days later.
Maura Caldwell was stunned last month when she tried to make a coronavirus vaccine appointment for her elderly parents. Every website she found had its own protocol for signing in and doses would run out as soon as she learned of a site that had them. The Minneapolis mother of three young children decided there had to be a better way. So she launched a Facebook site that has since become known as Minnesota Vaccine Hunter, which now has more than 7,000 followers and has become a window into the chaotic and often dog-eat-dog competition to get the life-saving shots. Maura Caldwell and her 3-year-old daughter Ava, clean the windows as Lilah, 7-months, plays nearby.
About 50 anti-capitalist protesters briefly shut down intersections in Uptown during a protest against a homeless camp eviction in North Minneapolis on March 19. 2021.
More than 34 square miles of northern Minnesota forest have burned by the Greenwood fire, but hope is on the horizon as more favorable weather has slowed the fire’s growth. This was the fire’s North West Corner near Pitcha Lake (bottom left) as fire crews set back fires to better control the perimeter.
Luke Loewe (12) of Minnesota is blocked while defended by Max Christie (5) and Julius Marble II of Michigan State in the second half Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021 at Williams Arena in Minneapolis, Minn.
Scores of State Patrol officers stood guard at the Minnesota State Capitol. A small group of Trump supporters protested the 2020 presidential election results and Gov. Tim Walz’s COVID-19 measures at the Minnesota State Capitol on Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021 in St. Paul.
Indigenous leaders and “water protectors” marched through swamp land to the boardwalk leading to an Enbridge pipeline construction site on Monday, June 7, 2021. More than 2,000 protesters gathered from around the country in Clearwater County, Minn., to protest the construction of Enbridge Line 3. The day started with a prayer circle and moved on to a march to the Mississippi headwaters where the oil pipeline is proposed to be built.
After fishing in what should be the thunderous Minnehaha Falls, a great blue heron shakes off water from the now trickling falls Tuesday in Minneapolis.
Roderick Sewell took practice laps during the first day of the U.S. Paralympic swimming trials at the University of Minnesota’s Jean. K. Freeman Aquatic Center in June. (The fins are for warm-ups only.) Sewell made his Paralympic debut in 2014, winning gold and bronze medals.
Jay Brooks tossed fresh snow in the air as he played with his 3-year-old Bernedoodle, Sercie, Sunday evening at Lynnhurst Park.
Joseph Long sported a beard of snow and ice as he used a snowblower to clear the sidewalks on Northeast Tyler Street after an overnight snowfall blanketed the area Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021 in northeast Minneapolis. According to a neighbor, Long regularly uses his snowblower to clear the entire sidewalk on his block.
Steve Sweat of Mankato performs a handstand while skating at Roller Garden on Saturday, May 8, 2021 in St. Louis Park, Minn. That Saturday marked the last day in business for Roller Garden, which closed after 52 years.
Kawsar Qazizada hugged big sister Dewa as they were reunited at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in late August. Kawsar and her father, Ziaullah Qazizada, stayed in Minnesota while her mother and siblings went to Afghanistan for a funeral. (Her parents realized at the last minute that Kawsar’s passport had expired.) The family was stuck in Kabul after the Taliban took over, returning home almost a month later.
Arabelle Rohs, who lives in Sherburne County, said she got the idea for dressing as a coronavirus particle — with Sherlock as a doctor — for the State Fair’s annual 4-H Llama and Alpaca Costume Contest after learning the animals have natural antibodies to the virus. The contest, in which 4-H participants and their animals dress in complementary costumes, has been part of the fair since 2008.
Clarence Maschke of Norwood Young America, who woke at 4:30 a.m. that morning, took a catnap on Dan Patch Avenue after lunchtime at the Minnesota State Fair.
Former Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty and current Governor Tim Walz received their single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine Tuesday at the Vikings practice facility in Eagan. Today is the first day all Minnesotans aged 16 and older are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Minneapolis Chief Medaria Arradondo met privately with Mayor Jacob Frey and they hugged before he publicly announced that he will retire at the end of this term. Monday, Dec. 6, 2021 Minneapolis, Minn.
John Grubb of St. Michael was discharged from Hennepin County Medical Center in early May after 11½ weeks on a heart-lung bypass machine, a treatment of last resort in COVID care. His health care team, including Dr. Mark Sprenkle, stopped to wish Grubb and his wife, Kelly, well.
After taking a year off, the Easter Bunny hopped to it this spring, posing for socially distanced photos with kids of all ages at Maplewood Mall. Photographer Moses Onyancha worked to make sure 4-year-old Victor Tomsen was all smiles during his photo session. Last year’s event was canceled due to the state-mandated shutdown.
Ashley Mehrwerth gave friend and fellow driver TJ Inderieden a smooch on the cheek on victory lane following his win in the flagman’s invitational at Granite City Motor Park in Sauk Rapids, Minn. The special event started three years ago, with racers from different divisions competing and TJ starting on pole — and ultimately winning. As fans continued to donate, TJ’s purse reached $1,200.
Just a few days into spring, a slow-moving storm drenched the Twin Cities, and the much-needed moisture was reflected in the soon-to-be-budding cottonwoods along the Mississippi River in Hastings. With temperatures in the 60s and 70s, leaf-filled canopies weren’t far away. It could have been worse: The same storm brought snow Up North.
Caydence Love, 9, left, and Brielle Jarmon, 8, shouted out Trinity Ottoson-Smith’s name as they joined others on a march to pray for her at North Memorial Hospital during a rally, Sunday, May 23, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minn. Trinity Ottoson-Smith, 9-years old, was struck by a stray bullet in North Minneapolis while jumping on a trampoline in May, and died after nearly two weeks in the hospital.
13-month-old Hamilton Hormann regards Santa Claus from a safe distance at the IDS Center’s Crystal Court in Minneapolis, Minn., Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021.
Rick Pelleltier widened the path into a frozen Lake Harriett at sunset Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021 in Minneapolis before he swam in the 33 degree water for the 274th consecutive day. The first major storm of winter dumped more than a foot of snow in some areas of the metro.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz surprised sign language translator Nic Zapko proclaiming it “Nic Zapko Day” on her birthday after he addressed the media regarding the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine during a press conference, Tuesday, March 9, 2021 in St. Paul, MN.
Nazera Mohamed posed for photos in the sunflower field at Isanti’s Green Barn Garden Center, one of the Minnesota farms that has come to embrace sunflower sightseers. The crops are now being planted for their looks as well as their seeds. 
Crowds lined the streets on St. Paul’s East Side in August to welcome home their Olympic champion, Sunisa Lee. Lee, with mom Yeev Thoj, left, and sister Shyenne Lee, was the first Hmong American to compete in the Olympics, and the first Asian woman to win the gymnastics all-around.
All eyes were on Minneapolis in March as the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, later convicted of killing George Floyd, began. Attorney Ben Crump, the Rev. Al Sharpton and Brandon Williams, a nephew of Floyd’s, knelt for 8:46 minutes by the Hennepin County Courthouse on opening day.
Michael Crothers, of Houston, listened to his phone at George Floyd Square as the verdict was read in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, Tuesday, April 20, 2021 in Minneapolis. Chauvin was on trial in the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody in May, 2020. Chauvin was convicted on all three charges, second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
At George Floyd Square, people including Jennifer Starr Dodd, left, celebrated the conviction verdict in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, Tuesday, April 20, 2021 in Minneapolis. Chauvin was on trial in the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody in May, 2020.
Fan favorite Jeremy Lambert, in his popular 1957 Chevy, took the checkered flag to win the feature race at the Lake Superior Ice Racing Association’s weekly event at Allouez Bay in Superior, Wis., in February. With cars reaching speeds of 65 mph and occasional icy spinouts inevitable, the races aren’t for the faint of heart. “The adrenaline, the fun — that’s why we’re out here,” said Lambert. “But, I also want to win.”
A common loon rose from the water and flapped its wings in the diffused light of a smoky sunset on Dodo Lake near Canyon, Minn., in late August. While loons may appear to be having difficulty taking flight, it’s all just part of the preening process. Soon the adult loons would start moving south, with the younger loons following a month or so later.
The 1200-pound aluminum cherry ball is unbolted, lifted, and separated from the Spoonbridge base it sits atop at the Sculpture Garden in Minneapolis, Minn., on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. Due to the typically harsh conditions of Minnesota winters, this iconic Minneapolis fruit requires a fresh coat of paint about every ten years to keep the cherry’s red crisp and glossy. Leon Budke, an employee with Rocket Crane Services, rides inside the cherry as it’s moved from the spoon on to the ground. This wasn’t Budke’s first ride in the cherry; he’s taken the ride previously and joked he may come out of retirement the next time the cherry is moved.
Matt and Nicole Siewert pose for wedding photos on the Stone Arch Bridge Friday, Dec. 10, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minn. The first significant winter storm of the season hit the Twin Cities and brought snowfalls ranging from 5 to 12 inches.
Twins legend Tony Oliva, photographed at Target Field Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021 in Minneapolis. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame this year.
A Marine sergeant released two baskets of doves at the Day of Remembrance ceremony at the State Capitol on Sept. 11, 20th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. It was a time to remember the horror, anger and despair that came on Sept. 11, 2001. But it was also a time to remember the feelings that came afterward: awe at the stories of heroism, humility at the selflessness displayed and unity.
A puppy did its own meditation while watching birds outside a window during a yoga with puppies fundraiser for the Beagle Freedom Project. Meghan Vanderbilt is in the background.
Zumba instructor Sadie Jelinek led her first weekly outdoor class of the season Saturday at the Armatage Recreation Center. The weekly workout classes were to take place there every Saturday at 10 a.m. weather permitting though summer and cost between $7 to $10 depending on what a person can give. Jelinek has had to reconfigure her Zumba classes nearly half a dozen times throughout the pandemic according to a student who called her the model of resilience through COVID-19.
Defensive colleagues watched Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks lead by leaping in a group celebration after an interception in the third quarter against Detroit earlier this season. The Lions left U.S. Bank Stadium with a 17-19 loss, but it wasn’t without twists and turns on both sides. To refresh your memory, the Vikings won as time ran out, thanks to Greg Joseph’s 54-yard field goal.
A whitetail doe bounded off to safety while feeding on a foggy morning Sunday near Weyerhaeuser, WI