When 2020 rang in, the news cycle was winding down from the holiday hoopla and looking toward the next 365 days to come -- well, 366, since it was a Leap Year.
In those early months, stories about Bishop England’s boys basketball team jumping out to an 11-0 start or the perfect temperatures for winter fishing or photo pages of community celebrations were par for the course.
The announcement that four-time Grand Slam singles champion Kim Clijsters was to play the Volvo Car Open, signaling her comeback from retirement, had people looking forward to the international tournament’s 20th anniversary on Daniel Island.
At the City of Charleston inauguration in January, DI resident Marie Delcioppo, the newly elected District 1 representative, was sworn in along with Mayor John Techklenberg and other council members.
And people were still gathering indoors to support local charities such as the ThROWdown 2020 for the Special Olympics.
At the time, the only group that had decided to cancel its get-togethers was Daniel Island’s longest running social club, “Thank Goodness It’s First Friday,” which had decided to disband after nearly 22 years. And the only thing that seemed to have residents worried about safety was a reported rise in coyote activity on Daniel Island. Projects were getting underway with construction and groundbreakings at the Waterfront and for Saint Clare of Assisi Catholic Church.
Then came COVID-19 and the world changed. One of the first major cancellations was the Volvo Car Open. By mid-March, stay-at-home orders had many businesses shutdown, schools closed and learning shifted online, and only essential workers on the job.
Grocery shelves were emptied of hand sanitizer and toilet paper.
But the community didn’t give in. Restaurants found ways to offer takeout with their doors closed. Retail stores created online and delivery options. Children weren’t the only ones learning online, with yoga instruction going virtual and office workers becoming home office workers. Distilleries brewed up hand sanitizer and people got creative sewing face masks for medical workers and the public. Churches found new ways to worship.
And even the most tech-challenged individuals learned about Zoom.
As everyone prepared for the long haul, and rallied to help their neighbors, no one expected the pandemic would be the central focus for nine-plus months — changing the way we vote, the way we celebrate, the way we live day to day.
But social distancing wasn’t the only social norm questioned in 2020. The discussion about social justice and police reform grew as large as the numbers on the national COVID map. Following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers on May 25 in Minneapolis, protesters took to the streets around the country to take a stand. The marches sometimes turned violent and destructive. But most protests, like the walks on Daniel Island, brought groups together in solidarity, and brought down a Confederate statue
in Marion Square.
There were good things to came out of 2020. Our frontline workers – health care workers, teachers, service providers – were recognized for the important work they do. Thousands of homeless animals found forever homes – the result of a pandemic pets adoption frenzy. In the DI area, the real estate market experienced maybe its most phenomenal year on record.
While the numbers in South Carolina are still staggering – 275,285 confirmed cases as of Dec. 28, with 4,782 deaths – with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccinations in distribution, and two more on the horizon, we can start to envision a brighter 2021.
The ringing in of 2021 won’t bring an immediate end to the difficulties of 2020. Recovery is going to be a long road ahead. But the light at the end of the tunnel is in sight.