First Posted: 12/23/2014
Hey, do you remember the Ice Bucket Challenge?
Who could forget it? It was one of those phenomena that swept our area and the rest of the nation in 2014.
It headlines our list of 10 trends and events that helped define the year that was 2014. They weren’t always local news, but still caught the imaginations, passions, and attention of local residents:
1) The Ice Bucket Challenge
Athletes, politicians, movie stars — everybody was taking the plunge in ice-cold water this summer to raise money for Lou Gehrig’s Disease research.
The fad spread via social media and gained critical mass with versions by Bill Gates, Benedict Cumberbatch, Robert Downey Jr., Martha Stewart, Ashton Kutcher, Dave Grohl, George Takei, and dozens of other celebrities.
The ALS Association claimed donations from the Ice Bucket Challenged crossed the $100 million mark.
Hold your phone at arm’s length and snap a pic of yourself — extra points for using a fashionable tilted angle.
The selfie was all the rage in early 2014, finding life on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and gaining even more popularity, if it’s possible, thanks to The Chainsmokers with their one-hit wonder “Selfie.”
When host Ellen Degeneres tweeted a selfie with winners from the Academy Awards, it became the most-retweeted image of all time.
In the spring, “selfie” topped the list of new terms validated by induction to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary (along with “tweep” and “hashtag”).
3) Personality Quizzes
Which “Friends” cast member are you? What food matches your personality? What country should you live in?
If you use Facebook, you are probably inundated with “fun” surveys aimed at telling you something you don’t know about yourself based on five or six simple questions.
We hate them.
4) The Loss of Robin Williams
The star of “Mork and Mindy,” “Aladdin,” “Dead Poets Society,” “Good Will Hunting,” and “Mrs. Doubtfire,” Robin Williams died Aug. 11 at age 63.
What came as a shock is that one of the most beloved comedic actors in history took his own life, hanging himself with a belt.
Doctors said after Williams’ autopsy that he had a form of dementia that contributed to his death and may have been misdiagnosed as Parkinson’s disease.
The lights on Broadway were dimmed in his honor and Emmy Awards host Billy Crystal described Williams as “the brightest star in our comedy galaxy.”
5) ‘Star Wars’ Fever
May the Force be with us as “Star Wars” geeks — present company included — gear up for the release of a new trilogy.
A teaser trailer was released Nov. 28 for “The Force Awakens,” which will be Episode VII in the franchise canon. It immediately set the Internet afire with its images of a crossbar lightsaber, X-wings zooming low over water, and the Millennium Falcon barrel-rolling toward TIE fighters.
Speculation is that we’ll see the return of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia when the movie is released Dec. 18.
6) The Olympics
We were glued to our TVs in February for the XXII Olympic Winter Games held in Sochi, Russia.
From the icy fashions of the opening ceremony to political gaffs to scandals over faulty construction to the high of following young American gymnastics prodigies, the games had it all.
With the home advantage, Russia topped the medal count with 13 gold and 33 total, followed distantly by Norway, Canada, and the United States.
7) The World Cup
The Americans surprised the world by hanging on to Wold Cup dreams longer than anyone expected.
Fever pitch grew at home as the U.S. team survived games against Ghana and Portugal in Brazil (tie) before falling 1-0 to Germany.
Germany went on to win the 2014 FIFA tournament in a 1-0 bout versus Argentina.
Mario Gotze scored the winning goal in the 113th minute, becoming the youngest player to score in a World Cup Final and the only substitute ever to do so.
8) Philae’s Comet Landing
We landed on a comet.
It was the Generation Y equivalent of the moon landing when the Philae spacecraft set down Nov. 12 on 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.
It took more than 10 years for the European Space Agency probe to travel four billion miles to its target. It’s goal: To collect samples that can help scientists understand the origin of the solar system.
What they discovered was a large amount of water under a thin layer of dust, further cementing the idea that comets are big players in planetary formation.
This past year’s outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa is the largest in history, with more than 12,000 laboratory-confirmed cases and nearly 7,400 deaths.
Two imported cases brought the virus to the United States in October, causing one death and a smattering of quarantines.
Many people were under watch for symptoms after sharing an airplane with a Texas health care worker, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say there are no longer any active cases stateside.
Local hospitals stepped up training related to Ebola during the fall as public worries about a homeland outbreak grew.
Thirty-eight percent of Americans polled by the Harvard School of Public Health said they worry that Ebola will infect them or a family member over the next year.
10) Superhero Movies
Gather around, fellow nerds: We love superhero flicks.
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” grossed $260 million at the box office, with “X-Men: Days of Future Past” following at $234 million.
“Guardians of the Galaxy,” the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, blew them both away with $333 million at theaters.
It’s truly the age of the comic book geek. Between DC and Marvel, there are more than 20 superhero films slated over the next six years, including “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Captain America: Civil War,” “Wonder Woman,” “X-Men: Apocalypse,” “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” “Doctor Strange,” and a string of Justice League movies.