TENNESSEE, USA — As we prepare to ring in a new decade, let's take a moment to look back at some of East Tennessee's top moments from 2019.
We broke it down into nine categories with some of the stories, videos and moments you were most interested in over the past 365 days.
- People have been captivated by the Gatlinburg SkyBridge since it opened in May. Fog, snow or shine, visitors have taken advantage of the views and oddities offered at the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the US.
- 2019 just seemed to be the year of Dolly Parton. From "Heartstrings" on Netflix to a Hallmark movie to the "Dolly Parton's America" podcast to a pirate dinner theatre to new Dollywood attractions to her 50th anniversary at the Grand Ole Opry, it seemed this East Tennessee icon was always up to something.
- "If one flies, we all fly." In March, the Vols Basketball team certainly gave our Big Orange hearts a reason to soar as they played their way to the Sweet 16 for an "Audience of One" and inspired the Volunteer spirit along the way.
- The Vols Football team had a turbulent start to the season after losses to Georgia State and BYU and the dismissal of linebacker Jeremy Banks for controversial comments he made in an arrest video. However, they were able to fight their way back and qualify for the Taxslayer Gator Bowl to finish out the season.
DECEMBER 2019: Vols heading to the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl
- In June, we mourned with the Maryville community over the death of 8-year-old Clark Reagan, who was killed by his father in what police say was a murder-suicide.
- In April, we were stunned when a man shot two people, killing one and severely injuring another, before fatally shooting himself at Tanger Five Oaks Outlet Mall in Sevierville.
- An old cold case finally had some closure after more than 30 years when the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation named the man suspected of committing one of the infamous Redhead Murders. He was already in prison for attempting to kill a Knox County woman.
- In October, a man sued Cocke County after he said a correctional officer picked him up and body-slammed him into the floor while he was handcuffed, causing serious injuries as he was being processed into the jail.
- A Knoxville woman almost lost an arm from a flesh-eating bacteria, which she said she contracted after being cut at a local nail salon. She is on her way to recovery, and the nail salon had a state inspection days after Sharp reported this, which they passed with no issues.
- In April, the East Tennessee Children's Hospital recorded an honor walk for organ donors for the first time. The staff hoped this powerful tribute would demonstrate the level of respect and gratitude they have for parents who choose to donate their child's organs when they pass on.
- February had all of Tennessee contemplating whether to build an ark as historic flooding put us in a state of emergency and seemed to virtually shut down the entire region with toppled trees, washed-out roads and landslides.
- In September, East Tennesseans demonstrated their Volunteer spirit by sending relief efforts to the East Coast as Hurricane Dorian approached after killing more than 40 people in the Bahamas.
SEPTEMBER 2019: 'Selfless heroes': Gov. Bill Lee praises TN emergency personnel
- In July, we were all reminded to respect the wildlife in the Great Smoky Mountains when a mama bear charged a Cades Cove visitor who confronted her and her cubs multiple times. The mama and her cubs were not punished, and the man was unharmed. Lesson learned: Respect the wildlife and keep your distance.
- On the other hand, our beloved black bears got into quite a bit of mischief this year. One took a dip in a hotel hot tub. One tried to makes itself at home by crashing through someone's wall. Others broke into cars looking for snacks. Some were caught when the door shut behind them, and they honked the horn to be released.
OCTOBER 2019: Bears develop taste for hot tub covers
- Zoo Knoxville had its fair share of cute and cuddly moments. In July, Bea was born to Frances the Giraffe. Bea is the first baby giraffe born at the zoo in 17 years.
- Two months later, in September, the zoo introduced visitors to four adorable baby red pandas. These fuzzy little friends are going to play an important role in the survival of their species.
SEPTEMBER 2019: Red panda cub shown off at Zoo Knoxville
STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART:
- Our look back on the year wouldn't be complete without some heartwarming moments like the time the Knox County Juvenile Court asked for help replenishing their stuffed animal supplies for the kids who come through the doors and the community delivered. Not only was the supply completely restored, but they were offered secondary donation centers by local business owners.
- Of course, there was the Florida fourth-grader who became a rallying point for Vol Nation. He was bullied at school for his homemade UT shirt, and Big Orange fans just would not stand for it. Support poured in from around the world, and a T-shirt based on his design raised over $950,000 for "STOMP Out Bullying." The university offered honorary admission for him to join the Class of 2032 and awarded a four-year scholarship covering his tuition and fees beginning in fall 2028.
We know a lot more happened in our area in 2019. These were just some of the stories, videos and voices you interacted with the most.