BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The end of the year is a time to reflect.
Sitting here at my desk in an empty newsroom on Christmas day, I’m reflecting on the most talked-about stories of 2019, based on interactions from the WAFB Channel 9 Facebook page.
A few things are very obvious as I’m going through my list (and checking it twice).
The people of Louisiana, our viewers and loyal fans, are crazy about a few very specific things; billboards, football, good news, and seeing our people win - at sports and at life. I’ll go through a few of the most liked, commented, shared, and watched stories of the year.
In July, one family was spooked when a baby gator found its way under their carport during Hurricane Barry. Luckily, they had a really good boy there to protect them.
The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) shared this video to warn people about the dangers of wild animals during flood events. This video racked up an amazing 9.9 MILLION views. It was our most-viewed video posted to Facebook this year. Crazy, I tell ya.
Two words: Laine Hardy!
Before there was a Joe Burrow (and trust me, there was a Joe Burrow), the entire state was cheering on America’s idol, an 18-year-old heartthrob from Livingston Parish that swept the nation off their feet with his Elvis-like vibe.
Hardy captured the season 17 American Idol trophy and the hearts of Louisiana on May 19.
TIGERS WIN! TIGERS WIN! TIGERS WIN!
46 - 41. A final score the state of Louisiana will never forget.
The Tigers remained undefeated with a historic win over the Alabama Crimson Tide in the second “Game of the Century” between the two rivals. It was LSU’s first win over 'Bama since 2011. The game was the most-watched college football game on any network in eight years. After the game, the team carried quarterback Joe Burrow off the field.
And let’s not forget, he also won the Heisman trophy and raised nearly half a million dollars for the Athens County Food Pantry in his hometown.
Congratulations Joe Burrow, for having the best year out of any of us in 2019. Good luck in the NFL Draft. Cincinnati Bengals jerseys are going to be a hit in Louisiana in 2020.
I wasn’t kidding. Louisiana has a potentially unhealthy relationship with putting up billboards like.... everywhere, and for any reason.
To celebrate the LSU men’s basketball team’s last-second victory over Maryland in the Sweet 16, you guessed it - billboard.
LSU travels to Atlanta for the SEC Championship game? Billboards went up there, too.
And it wasn’t the only time billboards went up in Atlanta, oddly enough. Which brings us to our next most-talked-about topic of 2019.
Yeah, someone put up billboards in Atlanta, the site of the 2019 Super Bowl, after the infamous missed pass interference call that cost the Saints the NFC Championship in January.
- Passed Out: Saints contact NFL about non-call on critical play
- Kicked Out: Rams end Saints playoff, win with overtime field goal
- NFL head referee didn’t see controversial no-call on Tommylee Lewis pass play
- Sec. 642: Saints fans launch petition, after Rams fans launched petition against ref
- Rams defensive back fined for controversial hit on Saints wide receiver during NFC Championship Game
The call was so obvious and blatantly missed that the NFL actually changed their rules because of it. Thanks to Nickell Robey-Coleman’s inability to properly defend Saints WR Tommylee Lewis, pass interference calls are now reviewable.
We know it’s difficult to see but, here’s the missed call heard 'round the league:
There were even reports that a no-call movie was in production.
And who can forget this most precious and most-talked-about photo of 2019:
When Ayden Achee gets older, she’ll be proud of the over 5,000 shares this picture got on our page.
Social media is more than just a place to share memes and scroll through recipes and ASMR videos. It has the power to connect people in ways that wouldn’t be possible without it.
Danielle Trahan was just trying to find two brothers so she could show them the picture she took of them at their first-ever Saints game.
Jairen, 8, and Terrion Shaffer, 14, were dropped off by their dad, Jonathan, to watch the Saints-Panthers game in November. Dad was only able to secure two tickets, so he let his boys go in and waited for them outside of the stadium.
Social media tracked them down and the Saints official injury attorneys got the boys, their father, and the Trahans tickets to watch the Saints play the Colts in the last regular-season home game of 2019.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Drew Brees broke a record and Michael Thomas broke a record, but those things are just matters of time. When you’re averaging 11 receptions and 2.7 touchdown passes a game, you’re probably going to break a record eventually. Whatever, that’s not what we’re here for. We’re here for the absolute BEST of 2019. In the record-breaking category, that award goes to LSU sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson.
In June, Richardson made WORLD HISTORY by becoming the first person (not female, first HUMAN) to run the 100-meter dash in under 11 seconds and the 200-meter dash in under 23.4 seconds in the SAME DAY!
See, Louisianians love when our people win, including students.
Take your pick: twin seniors in Shreveport earned $1.3 million EACH in academic scholarships. They also received athletic scholarship offers to play football.
Amaris Lewis, a senior at Lusher Charter School was accepted into Harvard and Yale after receiving $2.6 million in scholarships. In plain English: she’s a genius who seeks to save lives.
Lewis is a National Merit Finalist and was nominated as a U.S. Presidential Scholar Candidate, all while maintaining a 4.40 GPA.
Baton Rouge Magnet High School senior Aalayah Levy secured a $1.2 million bag in April.
And an 18-year-old New Orleans high school senior was accepted into 115 colleges and was offered more than $3.7 million in scholarships.
Congratulations. Y’all made Louisiana mighty proud in 2019.
Last, and most certainly not least, nobody made Louisiana more proud than:
Jeremiah Travis! The 5-year-old marching band sensation out of St. Helena Parish captured the hearts of Louisiana at the beginning of November when a family member sent in a video of him drumming during a high school football game.
Jeremiah is currently a kindergartner and the youngest member of the St. Helena High School band. He’s been turning heads at halftime, on sidelines, and even at a New Orleans Pelicans game for his ability to keep up with percussionists at least ten years his senior.
“It’s mind-blowing every day,” his band director said.
Our minds are most definitely blown. Jeremiah has received a scholarship to attend Alcorn State University. He’s only 5 years old, y’all, and he has a scholarship.
There you have it, folks. A year-end wrap up of the stories you loved, liked, commented, and shared the most in 2019. There’s no secret or science here, just statistics. These stories brought the most smiles, the most joy, and maybe a little heartache (lookin’ at you, NFL referees), to our viewers, our fans, our followers, our friends, and our families in 2019.
We’re proud to share them with you one more time before the year’s over, and we look forward to bringing you the same joy in 2020.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you, from all of us.