DENVER (CBS4) – From Facebook to Twitter to CBSDenver.com, our viewers had plenty to talk about in 2014. Here are ten stories that generated some of the most “talk.”

Student Protests Empty Metro Area Classrooms

Students in Denver metro area public schools spent several months walking out of classes. In September, students in Jefferson County protested proposed changes to the district’s Advanced Placement American History curriculum. Those changes would have de-emphasized civil disobedience in American history. In November, students at Denver’s East High School walked out of class to protest the grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri, not to indict a white police officer in the deadly shooting of an unarmed black man. A driver with a medical emergency hit four Denver police officers escorting the students back to school. Officer John Adsit was critically injured. That initial protest was followed by several other walkouts at metro area schools, including one involving middle schoolers.

Amy Van Dyken-Rouen

Amy Van Dyken-Rouen at the Rocky Mountain Showdown at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Aug. 29, 2014. (credit: CBS)

Olympian Amy Van Dyken-Rouen Proves She’s Unstoppable
In June, one of Colorado’s most beloved sporting figures was clinging to life. Amy Van Dyken crashed her ATV at her home in Arizona, leaving her paralyzed just below the waist. After life-surgery in Scottsdale, Amy came home to Colorado and Craig Hospital for rehab. The six-time Olympic gold medalist proved she was a champion even out of the water, constantly posting upbeat pictures of her recovery and telling reporters she was determined to live a normal life, even if it was a “new” normal.

Who Doesn’t Deserve A Baseball Franchise?
In the midst of another dismal season, Colorado Rockies owner Dick Monfort sent an email to a disgruntled fan saying Maybe Denver doesn’t deserve a franchise. The comments came in reply to the fan’s email criticizing how the Monforts managed the team. When contacted by CBS4, Monfort admitted writing the message but said he meant to say that maybe the owners didn’t deserve a franchise. The Rockies finished the season 66-96.

Boulder Outpouring Of Grief For Robin Williams
The world mourned when actor Robin Williams committed suicide in his San Francisco home in August. In Colorado, fans immediately flocked to the house made famous in his breakout comedy “Mork & Mindy.” Williams played the space alien Mork from Ork with actress Pam Dauber. Boulder Congressman Rep. Jared Polis paid his respects, posting a picture showing himself dressed as Mork. Williams had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease before his death.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock stabs the Tom Brady Voodoo Doughnut with a pretzel on Wednesday. (credit: CBS)

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock stabs a Tom Brady Voodoo Doughnut with a pretzel. (credit: CBS)

Two Cult Retail Chains Open Doors In Colorado
2014 brought two businesses with extremely loyal followings to Colorado. In January, Voodoo Doughnut opened its first location outside Oregon, painting a building on East Colfax bright pink. Long lines immediately greeted the store offering up decadent doughnuts. Mayor Hancock celebrated the grand opening by using one of the voodoo doughnuts to target New England quarterback Tom Brady.
Then in February, Trader Joe’s opened its first store in Colorado, welcoming shoppers to its location at 8th and Colorado. Like Voodoo Doughnut, it also faced a parking crunch, with many in the neighborhood complaining the store needed more parking. By the end of the year, the grocery chain had five stores opened in Colorado and plans for several more.

Colorado Symphony Mixes Music & Marijuana
There were countless stories in the news this year about legal recreational pot sales and the impact on the state, but when the Colorado Symphony announced it was going to have cannabis friendly performances, it crossed a legal line. The symphony had planned three such concerts, including one at Red Rocks. But the state law does not allow people to consume pot in public places. Eventually the concerts went forward after the symphony made them invitation-only events at a private gallery.

Eastern Plains Hamlet Shoots Down Drone Hunting
While the FAA considered expanding who could use drones in 2014, a tiny town in the Eastern Plains found itself in the middle of the debate. After nearly a year of debates, Deer Trail finally decided against issuing hunting licenses for drones. The proposal first came up in 2013, drawing the ire of the FAA which said shooting down an aircraft is illegal. In April 2014, the voters finally decided against the idea.

Wes Welker handing out money

Wes Welker handing out money after the Kentucky Derby (credit: Jeff Novak/Twitter)

Wes Welker Lucky Day At Churchill Downs
When Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker hit it big at the Kentucky Derby, he started handing out $100 bills to random people. Welker won on a 37-1 long shot but his good luck didn’t end when Commanding Curve finished second. A terminal malfunction meant Welker and his group received almost $15,000 more than they should have. Churchill Downs asked for the money back but says it’s not the sort of mistake that is a big deal.

Three High Elevation Tornadoes Hit Park County
After years of drought, severe weather returned to Colorado in the spring and summer of 2014. In June, three rare tornadoes hit Park County, all above 8,000 feet. The first hit near Fairplay at an elevation of 9,800 feet, damaging a home. The second was also in the Fairplay area at 9,400 feet. The third tornado hit west of Lake George between 8,000 and 9,000 feet. It damaged homes and campers. The tornadoes were also unusual because they developed early in the day, the first at 10:55 a.m., the second at 11:06 a.m. and the third at 12:32 p.m.

President Barack Obama played Gov. John Hickenlooper

President Barack Obama played Gov. John Hickenlooper in pool at the Wynkoop Brewing Company on July 8, 2014. (credit: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

Governor Skips Fundraiser But Plays Pool With President
With the governor’s office and an U.S. Senate seat in play in the 2014 election cycle, President Obama attended a fundraiser in Colorado. In July, he headed downtown for dinner at Wazee Supper Club with people who had recently written him letters, but that’s not where his night in LoDo ended. He ended up at Wynkoop Brewing Co. for a game of pool with Gov. John Hickenlooper, who co-founded the brew pub. That game came the night before then-incumbent Sen. Mark Udall skipped the President’s fundraising event for the senator’s campaign at Cheesman Park. By the way, President Obama won the pool game.

Honorable Mention: The Ice Bucket Challenge
The Ice Bucket Challenge swept the nation and Colorado as the famous and not-so-famous stepped up to social media challenges to raise money for ALS. It started in Boston after a former Boston College baseball team captain was diagnosed with the progressive neurodegenerative disease also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Police and fire departments in Colorado answered the challenges as did various staff members at CBS4. By September, the challenge had raised more than $100 million, a 3,500 percent increase in donations from the same time period in 2013.

Raetta Holdman is a veteran newscast producer. She’s been with CBS4 for more than 25 years, coordinating events — large and small — from the control room. Contact her by clicking here.

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