When Minnesotans think about 2016 many memories good and bad will arise.
While events such as the opening of US Bank Stadium was foreseen and well anticipated, others such as the tragic passing of the state’s music legend Prince was unforeseen. In the land of 10,000 lakes 2016 was a bizarre year. Throw in a thief who made off with a corn roaster from El Burrito Mercado, a popular family-owned Mexican food market in St. Paul, Minnesota, and vandalism at the state arboretum where an endangered Showy Lady Slipper, Minnesota’s state flower, was reported missing.
Obviously not every event made the list but here are 10 things Minnesotans will remember when reminiscing 2016.
10. The winning team in Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona was from Minnesota
Of all cities in Minnesota JDC MotorSports operates in Savage, Minnesota. The remote headquarters is approximately a 30-minute drive outside the Twin Cities, that’s of course an estimation commuting at a rate that abides the state’s traffic laws on a highway, not the going rate it would take a JDC sports car on a speedway.
The crew won the Rolex 24 in only their second appearance. The year prior, they let a first place lead slip away from them half way through and fell to third. In 2015, fatigue started to kick in says President and CEO of JDC MotorSports John Church.
“Suddenly you’re six laps down at 4 o’clock in the morning and you can’t keep your eyes open. I haven’t been up this late since college,” he said.
This year the feeling was different for him.
“This year we were in it all night and the adrenaline is pumping so you never got tired,” Church said.
9. Mall of America closes its Theatre after 24 years
The largest shopping mall in the nation opened in 1992. Since it has been open consumers were given the option to check out the latest movies. Movie-goers final day to watch a film at MOA came December 28 when the mall decided to shutdown the theatre after leasing out the fourth floor. The $12 million deal plans to build a 40,000-square-foot attraction called Smaaash, which will include a go-kart track, virtual reality and video games along with a restaurant and bar.
For one last look at vintage Mall of America, tour the mall with tltDesigns personality Tawana Terrell.
8. The Current relocates its annual Rock the Garden concert at the Boom Island, Chance the Rapper Headlines
Due to construction at Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota Public Radio The Current chose the Boom Island as the host site for the 2016 Rock the Garden concert. Next to the Mississippi River and overlooking the beautiful skyline of Minneapolis, the event was loaded with live performances headlined by Chance the Rapper. In its VIP section Thomson Reuters gave VIP members the virtual reality experience with a demo of the Samsung VR Oculus.
7. A high school responds to racist comments a Trump supporter posted in restroom
After the presidential election, where Republican candidate Donald Trump was chosen as the President-elect, protest across the nation broke out. While non-supporters in Minnesota protested in front of the state capitol, a Trump supporter at Maple Grove Senior High vandalized a stall in the boys restroom. Posted in writing were derogatory messages against the African American community with Trump’s slogan, “Make America Great Again,” next to it.
The story broke nation wide, however, students made a stand to combat the Trump supporter. Students wrote messages of love and acceptance that were posted along the school’s walls the next day. They even wrote messages on the school’s iconic Crimson Rock and greeted students entering the building with high fives the morning after the incident.
6. Minnesota Lynx fall short of winning its 4th WNBA Finals due to controversial no call
During the 20-year anniversary of the WNBA the Lynx made its 5th WNBA Finals appearance in 6 years. Looking to win its fourth title and first back-to-back they were upset home at Target Center by the Los Angeles Sparks in game 5 (best of five series) 76-75. However, a botched call with 1:14 remaining in the fourth quarter led to a controversial ending.
With the game tied at 71 Sparks’ Nneka Ogwumkie released a shot as the shot clock buzzed. When the buzzard rang the ball was still in her possession. However, the Sparks were rewarded two points and the play was not reviewed.
“The referees did not hear the shot clock. When they put the ball in play the play was no longer review-able…it is really unfortunate to the players,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said during the post-game press conference before shouting, “it is not enough to apologize and send out a memo that they got something wrong…just get the simple things right.”
The next day the WNBA sent out a memo apologizing for the missed call.
5. Kanye West takes St. Pablo Tour to St. Paul, before canceling
Hip-hop icon Kanye West performed in Minnesota for the first time since 2007. He floated on a platform over the audience, handcuffed to his microphone and wired on a harness. Performing tracks on his latest album, he made it a night well worth the wait for his fans.
The appearance came a week after he had canceled shows in New York after his wife Kim Kardashian was robbed.
Minnesota made perfect timing because a month later he canceled the rest of his tour due to exhaustion.
4. Minnesota Vikings $1.1 billion multipurpose field US Bank Stadium opens
US Bank Stadium hosted a soccer match, music concerts and of course all Vikings home games in 2016.
With the Vikings 5-0 start it almost seemed this site would host a playoff game. However, the Vikings fell to having a non-winning season, which eliminated them from playoff contention. If Vikings don’t get a home playoff game next year, they will just have to sit back and watch next year’s Super Bowl LII contestants compete in the first playoff game in the $1.1 billion glass covered stadium.
3. Prince dies at age 57
Minnesota legend Prince passed away in his recording studio Paisley Park in Chanhassen, Minnesota, April 21.
When the news broke across Minnesota there was shock and radio stations dedicating hours of playing music in honor of the legend, including MPR’s The Current. That night many gathered around Paisley Park and First Avenue in Minneapolis to pay their respects.
One of the most serendipitous things to ever happen was the purple rain throughout the state. It rained the day of his death and next to Paisley Park there was a rainbow.
2. Philando Castile fatally shot by police officer sparks Black Lives Matter Protests
School teacher Philando Castile, 32, was shot and killed by a St. Anthony police officer, July 6, at a traffic stop in Falcon Heights. The entire aftermath was livestreamed online by his girlfriend.
Throughout the Twin Cities protest organized by Black Lives Matter and other groups occurred in attempt to put an end to police involved shooting. For weeks people protested right outside the governor’s mansion. Governor Mark Dayton of Minnesota said in a press conference if Castile were white he would have not been killed.
“Would this have happened if those passengers, the driver were white?” Dayton asked. “I don’t think it would have.”
The shooter Jeronimo Yanez was charged with manslaughter. The first officer charged in over 150 police-involved shootings in Minnesota this millennium.
1. Minnesota pays tribute to Prince
With two proclamations for a Prince Day, one coming from Governor Dayton on Prince’s birthday, June 7, and the other from St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman on Oct. 13, Minnesota continued to celebrate his legacy.
After his death, many fans gathered and some even traveled to Minnesota to deck the gates of Paisley Park with fan art. The weekend following his death Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins, played Prince debut movie Purple Rain (1984) on the big screens. For months fan artwork hung right outside Paisley Park through Oct., when it was decided to turn Paisley Park into a museum. Today, fans can tour the inside of Paisley Park.
Venues such as First Avenue, where most of Purple Rain took place, was the host site for a three-day concert where Prince’s band The Revolution reunited to perform in honor of Prince. Oct. 13 is when Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Morris Day and Jerome Benton all performed to pay homage to Prince at the Xcel Energy Center.
Athletics events around Minnesota played Prince’s hit “Lets Go Crazy” and during halftime of the Minnesota Vikings home opener at US Bank Stadium their was a special tribute to Prince.
To forever immortalize the legend a piano at the Twin Cities Premium Outlet Mall was painted in purple decked with white doves and lyrics from his famous hits. Other things such as a mural for Prince began popping up throughout the state as well.
When the living legend passed, 2016 became the year the legend would be forever immortalized in his hometown.
By Gino Terrell