Just like that we are getting ready to ring in the new year and kiss 2021 goodbye. After an incredibly tough year fighting a pandemic, things shifted to a re-imagined reality. Let’s look at some of our most inspiring and favorite moments of the year for our Central Florida community.
February 7, 2021
Tampa Bay Buccaneers become Superbowl LV champions. This win made history because it is the first time a team won the Superbowl in their home stadium. The Bucs defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9. This was the second time the Bucs won the title, and Lori Locust and Maral Javadifar became the first women coaches to hold this title. Sarah Thomas also was the first female to referee the big game.
February 18, 2021
The NASA Perseverance Rover and first-ever Mars helicopter completed it’s million mile journey and successfully arrived on Mars. The spacecraft originally took off from Cape Canaveral in July of 2020. The duo completed the 300-million-mile journey. This landing added to NASA’s status of having the most successful robotic landings on Mars, with approximately 60% of the missions actually completed.
March 6, 2021
In Oviedo, a monument was unveiled to mark the site of a Navy plane crash site from 1962. On January 15, 1962, Lieutenant Charles Hodgate, Delton Wilson, John Bush and Horace Marks took off in their aircraft from Sanford Naval Air Station when the plane began to fail. Wilson was able to parachute out of the falling aircraft and survive. Lieutenant Hodgate and Petty Officers Bush and Marks stayed in their aircraft and directed it away from its path toward the Oviedo School. The bravery of these men saved many children and educators. The children of Lieutenant Hodgate unveiled the monument at the intersection of Clark Street and South Lake Jessup Avenue in Oviedo.
April 28, 2021
The Garden Theatre in Winter Garden announced the William Daniel Mills Apprenticeship Program. Harold and Rosy Mills selected the Garden to launch this new apprenticeship program for young artists ages 13 through 22. This generous gift and program was created by Harold and Rosy Mills to honor the memory of their beloved son Daniel Mills, a passionate student of theatre who tragically passed away in 2020.
June 12, 2021
A remembrance ceremony was held to commemorate the five years of healing after the tragic Pulse Shooting. OnePulse CEO Barbara Poma, survivors, first responders and community members gathered together to share their thoughts and stories. President Joe Biden made a statement that he would sign legislation, that was passed by congress, to make the site a national memorial. The “49 Bells” tradition, which was started in 2016, continued on the five-year remembrance. A bell rang as each of the victim’s names were read.
June 30, 2021
2021 was a big year of firsts for women across Central Florida including Janet Petro. She is the first female director of NASA’s John F. Kennedy’s Space Center. Petro is no stranger to breaking the glass ceiling as she was also part of the second class of women to be accepted into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
July 23, 2021
Congratulations to the 10 Central Floridians who competed in the 2020 Olympics.
Perry Barkey of New Smyrna Beach, US Men’s Rugby Team, 6th place.
Phil Dalhausser of Ormond Beach, US Men’s Beach Volleyball, tied for 9th.
Teahna Daniels of Orlando, US Track and Field, Silver Medal for the Women’s 4x100m relay.
Katelin Guregian of Orlando, US Women’s Rowing, 4th place.
Mark Kolozsvary of Eustis, US Baseball, Silver Medal.
Noah Lyles of Clermont, US Track and Field, Bronze for the Men’s 200m race.
Caroline Marks of Melbourne Beach, US Surfing, 4th place.
Alison Riske of Orlando, US Women’s Tennis, 17th in Doubles, 33rd in Singles.
Mattie Rogers of Orlando, US Women’s Weightlifting 87kg, 6th place.
Donald Scott of Apopka, US Track and Field, Men’s Triple Jump, 7th place.
August 4, 2021
Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida honored 17-year-old Quavion Smith for his dedication to fighting hunger within his community. Smith received the Andre Reyna Award, which recognizes a young individual who goes above and beyond in their volunteer efforts. Smith started volunteering twice a month at Herald of Hope in August of 2020. He has helped save the pantry over an estimated amount of $1,800.
August 23, 2021
A milestone in the battle to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic – the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine became the first to receive full-approved use for ages 16 and up by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. While this vaccine was available under emergency use authorization since December 2020, full FDA approval meant it met FDA’s strict approval standards to become more widely available to the public.
October 1, 2021
The Walt Disney World Resort has been synonymous with Central Florida. This year marks the 50th Anniversary of Disney bringing its magic to the Orlando area. There are now four different theme parks including Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. Let’s not forget to mention the world-famous hotels, restaurants and countless memories that are made every day through the dedication of Disney and its employees.
October 28, 2021
In a world filled with angst as we volley through this seemingly never-ending pandemic, a new sculpture was unveiled at Rollins College in Winter Park honoring Mister Rogers’ legacy. Mister Rogers graduated from Rollins in 1951 and he developed his unique worldview and curated his positive attitude while studying on campus. The sculpture reminds us of the importance of being kind and how we could all use a little more Mister Rogers in our life.