2021: The Year in Pictures


Carly Philpott

Political strife highlighted 2021 for the U.S. After the MLB All-Star game was moved from Atlanta, Georgia, in protest of Georgia’s harsh voting restrictions, to Denver, protesters lined up outside the game July 13 to display their dissent – and to protest the results of the 2020 presidential election, a common theme this year.

Carly Philpott, Amanda Castillo-Lopez, Norah Rudnick, and Staff

While 2020 began hopefully and trended slowly downward into near-apocalypse, 2021 seemed rather grim from the start. We were already in the grips of a pandemic with little indication of an end in sight, and political unrest in the U.S. was at a new high. Even so, there was some optimism: the approval of a few COVID-19 vaccines offered hope for a milder pandemic year and possibly a start towards normalcy.

There was more opportunity for travel – many had the opportunity to visit family or friends who they hadn’t seen in the past year. Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies baseball team, hosted the MLB All-Star Game, which was held last year in Los Angeles with no fans present. In-person concerts returned to stages in the summer and fall.

Many of our sports teams won or placed high in state competitions, including state championship wins for football, boys’ tennis, and volleyball; a second-place state finish for poms; and third-place state finishes for marching band and cheer, in addition to high state placements for both boys’ and girls’ cross-country.

And while 2021 did bring some improvement from the year before, it was also a rough year for many. Political turbulence created new tensions in the U.S government, and global warming contributed to raging fires across the west, while COVID continued to ravage the world.

Six days into 2021, The U.S. Capitol was stormed by right-wing extremists, highlighting the increasing polarization and conflict in this year’s politics. Locally, CCSD struggled through an unusually contentious and political school board election, eventually won by Kristin Allan and incumbent Kelly Bates.

Politics were not so polarizing in the conversation of climate change. The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference was a huge step towards a greener future; the U.S in particular agreed to a global partnership to cut 41 million tons of methane emissions by 2030 and many other countries made similar promises. However, the impact of climate change was especially prominent in 2021.

An unusually wet spring in Colorado meant our wildfires weren’t nearly as severe as 2020’s, but wildfires in California, Oregon, and Washington hit record destruction and size. Unusual weather patterns brought severe storms to the Southeast U.S. in December and delayed Colorado’s first snow later than ever before.

As this article is being written and posted, entire towns and cities in Boulder County are burning to the ground in one of Colorado’s most destructive wildfires ever, the Marshall Fire, which sparked to over 1,600 acres in just several hours, even though fires this bad are nearly unheard of in December and almost never affect actual suburban developments.

To further the feeling of despair as 2021 came to a close, a new COVID-19 variant was discovered in early November, first identified in Botswana and quickly spreading to neighboring countries and the rest of the world. The COVID-19 Omicron variant case rates are rising in ways that are reminiscent of early 2020, just before the world shut down. So while it’s difficult to know what 2022 will bring, it’s certainly getting off to a poor start – and 2021 is ending on a lesser note.

In our second annual Year in Pictures, staff members from The Union St. Journal shared snapshots of their 2021. It’s a display of how the events of the year, both global and local, applied to us. Much of it is COVID-related – so much of the year was formed about the ever-present pandemic. Other parts show the joy of holidays, of concerts, of first snow. All of it was experienced by not just us, but by our communities and our world.

Introduction by Carly Philpott and Amanda Castillo-Lopez