Of all the stories that made headlines this year, these kept you talking for days. It was difficult to limit this list to 13, but we did our best. We hope you enjoy taking a look back of some of the events that we were glued to over the past 12 months.
The Death Of Actor James Gandolfini
We were all shocked and saddened when news broke of ‘The Soprano’s’ star’s untimely death in June. Gandolfini had been in Italy when he suffered a heart attack. He was 51. Tributes popped up across New Jersey after his untimely death. Many residents were heartbroken over the loss of the actor, who was born in Westwood, raised in Park Ridge and attended Rutgers University.
The World Gets A New Pope
After watching for white smoke for a few days, on March 14, Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina, a.k.a Pope Francis, was announced as the new spiritual leader to more than 1.2 billion Catholics after Pope Benedict XVI stepped down. And he’s been making headlines ever since. Francis raised eyebrows for comments he made regarding the Catholic Church’s “divisive” policies on gays and abortion, and was recently named TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year for 2013.
More: New Pope Chosen
By George, It’s A Royal Baby!
The world held its breath waiting for news of the royal birth. Well, maybe not, but it was exciting nonetheless. Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, delivered a son George Alexander Louis (George VI) at 4:24 p.m. on July 22. Soon after George VI made his formal debut, all eyes shifted from the mini monarch to his swaddle blanket.
The Harlem Shake
The Internet meme involving a funny sketch accompanied by a part of the song “Harlem Shake” took the world by storm in early 2013. In fact, local sports icons including Yankees Ace CC Sabathia even got into the action. The videos provide hours of distraction on the Internet, but locally, one group of students took it a bit too far. The sexually suggestive “Harlem Shake” video made by the Nyack-Tappan Zee hockey team cost the group their shot at the playoffs.
Cronut Craze Takes Manhattan
On May 10, 2013, chef Dominique Ansel introduced the Cronut™ to the world and trademarked the name shortly thereafter. Almost immediately, people went crazy for this half-croissant, half-doughnut hybrid, with some folks getting in line in front of his eponymous SoHo bakery as early as 4 a.m. He makes only 200 to 250 Cronuts every morning (it takes three days to complete the process) and at the height of their popularity, the sweet would sell out within an hour — leaving some folks to search for the goodie on Craigslist.
The dance move known as “twerking” became a household name after Miley Cyrus shamelessly performed the move — one in which the dancer shakes his or her hips in an up-and-down bouncing movement, causing the dancer’s buttocks to shake — at the MTV Video Music Awards at Barclays Center at the end of August. People haven’t stopped talking about it since. In late Sept, hundreds of people gathered in Herald Square to set the Guinness World Record for the most people twerking at the same time for two minutes. It took 358 people, but they got the job done.
Beyonce Lip-Synchs the National Anthem
What at first was thought to be a flawless, patriotic rendition of our National Anthem by Beyonce…turned out to be fake. After suspicion that Beyonce did not perform the Star Spangled Banner live at President Obama’s inauguration, the star admitted that she sang along with a pre-recorded track. “Well, I am a perfectionist,” Beyonce said. “I practice until my feet bleed, and I did not have time to rehearse with the orchestra. It was a live television show, and a very, very important, emotional show for me, one of my proudest moments. And due to the weather, due to the delay, due to no proper sound check, I did not feel comfortable taking a risk,” she said.
Paula Deen Controversy
Paula Deen came under fire for racial remarks she made more than 20 years ago. Deen testified under oath that she had used the “N-word” in 1986 to describe a man who had attempted to rob her and held a gun to her head. That’s when her multi-million dollar empire began to crumble. The Food Network dropped her almost immediately, and Wal-Mart, Smithfield Foods and Caesars Entertainment followed. Home Depot also said it will discontinue Deen-branded items on its Web site. Despite her tearful apology on YouTube, the celebrity chef hasn’t seemed to bounce back just yet.
The Cleveland Kidnapping Saga
Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus & Michelle Knight captured the hearts of the world with their heroic and unbelievable story of resilience in the face of the greatest horror anyone could ever face. The three women disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004, when they were 14, 16 and 20 years old. Each had accepted a ride from Ariel Castro, who then kidnapped them. They escaped May 6, when Amanda Berry, now 27, broke part of a door and yelled to neighbors for help. Castro was arrested that evening. He later died in prison. While it was first ruled a suicide, but a state report later claimed he died in an ill-fated attempt to choke himself for a sexual thrill.
Major Victory For Gay Rights
In a significant victory for the LGBTQ community, the Supreme Court struck down a provision of a federal law denying federal benefits to married gay couples and cleared the way for the resumption of same-sex marriage in California. In a 5-4 ruling, the court struck down a provision of the Defense of Marriage Act that has prevented married gay couples from receiving a range of tax, health and retirement benefits that are generally available to married people. President Barack Obama hailed the decision, declaring the court “has righted a wrong, and our country is better off for it.”
The roll out of the Affordable Care Act didn’t go as smoothly as planned. A botched website launch, a you-can-keep-your-plan promise that didn’t quite pan out, fears of increasing premiums, decreasing choices, job cuts, death panels — these are just a few of the things Pres. Obama probably wants us to forget about. The less-than-successful Obama launch was seemingly made for Saturday Night Live skits and late night talk show monologues.
The Government Shutdown
Another story out of Washington which had everyone talking? The government shutdown. Not only were many government employees forced to stay home, but businesses that rely on their business suffered during the shutdown. The impasse also shuttered national parks and monuments and mostly closed down NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department. The standoff between the Obama administration and Republican majority in the House caused many New York tourist attractions — like the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island — to remain closed.
Nelson Mandela Dies
Former South African President Nelson Mandela died Dec. 5 at the age of 95. Mandela had been battling a recurring lung infection.“We’ve lost our greatest son,” South Africa’s current president, Jacob Zuma, said. The leader of a rebellion against South Africa’s white apartheid government spent 27 years in prison and became the leader of national unity. Mandela’s decades-long rebellion transformed him from a convicted traitor into a freedom fighter and international hero. His funeral spawned even more chatter, due to a questionable sign language interpreter and Pres. Obama’s selfie with the Danish prime minister.