The latest and greatest on CNN iReport, brought to you by Team iReport.
Hi gang, our friends at “News To Me”, HLN’s showcase for iReports and Web culture, have included many of your incredible images and stories as part of a year-end TV special, “Best of iReport 2008.” From the China earthquake, to the Olympics, the election, hurricane season, the market tanking and banks failing -- iReporters played a vital role in CNN’s coverage of the year’s biggest stories. The show airs this weekend on HLN. Click the video above for a sneak preview.
New Year's Eve is tomorrow night so that means it's time to crack out the champagne, funny hats and of course, the Alpacas! Well, at least iReporter Alpacaman includes Alpacas in his New Year's tradition. The Alpaca rancher from Lorida, Florida -- yes, it's a real town, I looked it up on a map -- marched his Alpacas down local streets last year, drawing huge crowds. The people there were even humming "Auld Lang Syne." The communities were so jazzed to see the llama-like creatures that they asked the furry parade to return this New Year's. And for all the football fans out there, you can catch the Alpacas at three college bowl games on New Year's Day. They'll be wearing jerseys to support their favorite teams -- the Alpacas, I mean. On the other side of the world in the Philippines, iReporter jvabellar says some people might be eating 12 grapes when the clock strikes midnight. The hope is that the grapes will bring good luck and wealth for the next 12 months. Round, sweet fruits are meant to resemble coins for luck and prosperity. So, whether you'll be marching with Alpacas or eating grapes for good luck, we want to hear what your plans are for New Year's Eve. Will you be partying with friends or kissing your sweetheart? Send us your celebration plans. Team iReport wishes you all a happy New Year!
Eartha Kitt, the original singer of "Santa Baby" died on Christmas Day. Her six-decade career took her from an Orson Welles film to the 1960s "Batman" television series, and everywhere in between. iReporters such as davidjw remembered the singer and actress last week. Several iReporters actually met Kitt, such as staleyjim, who calls it "a day I will not forget." Kitt sat down with him as he was eating alone at a resort 30 years ago. staleyjim did not realize who she was at the time. "Later that evening, I went to the Bar at the Hotel for the evening entertainment and to my surprise there was the lady from lunch, up on stage singing." Kitt had a drink with him after the show. Msdbell met her backstage after a show in San Francisco at the age of 10. "Ms. Kitt was bubbly and effervescent during our visit. She spoke to us as if we were old family friends in that purrrrrrfectly sultry voice," she says. "I will always remember how down to earth and friendly Ms. Kitt was to us that day. She was humble, elegant, and extremely gracious. They don't make them like that anymore." RBMcGrath shared quite a moment with Kitt as he watched one of her performances on his birthday in the late 1970s: "During her show, while singing 'I Wanna be Evil' she slinked down the runway and in the middle of her song sat down on the stage in front of me and offered her foot, which I gently kissed. I took a ring off my finger and handed it up to her. She then waved her hand and abruptly stopped the orchestra. She looked at the ring, looked at me, and looked at the ring again. The entire audience fell silent as she glared at me. I was petrified. And then she growled, 'Too bad you can't afford me.' It was a wonderful moment that I will never forget." jgerard, who watched many of her performances in recent years and corresponded with her, sums up the feelings of other iReporters who were fans of Kitt: "Her music comforted me during the hardest of times; her drive motivated me to keep going; her activism was inspirational; and her appreciation and admiration toward her fans could only come from the classiest of women." Do you have an Eartha Kitt story? Share it with us here.
This past weekend, I had a close encounter of the iReport kind while I was far from my desk. I was checking out the grand opening of a new light rail line while visiting my hometown of Phoenix, Arizona, for the holidays. After waiting nearly three hours, I finally boarded a train and got to experience my roots in a new light. Thousands of people packed the stops along the route. It seems someone had to have iReported the event, and sure enough, serial iReporter NakedBoyNews submitted a story about the opening. He was visiting town from Las Vegas, Nevada, and also shot photos of the offbeat-looking Chihuly exhibit at the Desert Botanical Garden. It's a shame we didn't run into each other on a train platform; this could have been a scene straight from a movie, with us running toward one another, arms outstretched… alas. But I thought it was interesting that we were both at the same event, and I was intrigued to see that another iReporter, drkayes, sent us a story about incorporating the light rail into New Year's Eve plans. Were you there? How's the transit in your area? Comment below and tell us what you think, or visit our assignment desk and see if there's a story idea that intrigues you.
iReporter JKerouac of San Diego has a very unusual holiday tradition, indeed. Every year, he gets together with his family and they re-create a famous photograph or piece of art to send out to loved ones for their Christmas card. In previous years, they have re-created the famous Beatles “Abbey Road” album cover and the unforgettable image of an American flag being raised at Iwo Jima. This year, they went for a classic painting by Norman Rockwell. JKerouac’s creativity doesn’t end there. He came up with a great idea for the Sea World San Diego public relations department’s holiday card, portraying members of the department swimming with killer whales Shamu and Baby Shamu. He even has a few tips for those who would like to add a dash of creativity to their card next year. “Try a personal touch. Photograph a scene from your bedroom window, include a favorite quote that keeps you motivated throughout the year, visually interpret what the year has meant to you.” CNN.com Live’s Reggie Aqui interviewed JKerouac about where he came up with these great ideas. Check out the interview here! And if you have any creative, offbeat photos or videos, share them with us!
Here's something we hope will make holiday season in iReport-land a little more wonderful: our iReport end-of-year special on CNN! It's called "iReport 2008 -- Caught on Camera," and it airs Saturday and Sunday (December 27 and 28) at 8 pm ET. And now you are getting an exclusive sneak peek at the special! You all have had an incredible year, from breaking news coverage, to funny photos and videos, to insightful commentary. This special is your chance to see the most compelling iReports you created this year. You might even see yourself or one of your own iReports on TV! We're also reflecting on a great year of iReports in a couple of other ways. Check out two features we recently published on CNN.com: Year in review: Choose your picks for best iReports of the year 2008 in 30 seconds: You summed up your year in 30 seconds or less -- and so did the iReport production team! Have the happiest of holidays, and don't forget to watch the special and check out all the amazing work you've done this year on iReport. It's our way of not only showing off your best work, but also saying thank you for being part of the iReport community and a critical part of CNN's news coverage. UPDATE: Check out HLN interviews with superstar iReporters zennie62 and WCNreporter here and here.
Every so often we notice something like this that really gets our attention. rosehips ventured out into the cold in Colville, Washington late last week to iReport on the snow, and decided to ask passersby not only their thoughts on the snow but on President-elect Barack Obama’s new cabinet. So we’d like to challenge you: Do you think you can accomplish two iReport topics at one time? Fire up your camera and give it a shot!
Recently, I sat down and spoke with Mrs. Claus. She was in town for a home and garden show at the Georgia World Congress Center. During our interview, she revealed that she is "a little worried" about her husband, Santa Claus, after seeing his exploits on iReport.com and later on CNN. "I've never seen him act like this," she said. And to tell you the truth, I've been noticing the same thing. He's been everywhere, doing everything. iReport.com user canuck66 got some nice footage of Santa taking up skiing in Banff, Alberta, while surfervince and kqsurfkc spotted a surfing Santa in southern California. bbzimmerman has some photos of him Scuba diving. Sometimes Santa likes to get away and hang with the boys, as evidenced by his appearance at Santacon in San Francisco, California. He's even been spotted on the beach in Brazil, cavorting in Latvia, riding a rickshaw and driving a tractor. "He's not getting any younger," Mrs. Claus said. "I guess this is his way of coping with being the jolly old elf." He seems to be doing better than the Grinch, who stoncray last saw aiming his radar gun to catch speeders in Orlando, Florida. Where have you seen Santa Claus? Send us your photos and video of Father Christmas and holiday celebrations. DISCLAIMER: No promises about the existence of Mr. and Mrs. Claus -- or the lack thereof -- but this post is written in jest. That's not to say that Santa isn't having a midlife crisis, however.
UPDATE: Also making a lot of appearances on iReport in recent days: Santa's dogs!
A rare snowfall in Las Vegas, Nevada, prompted Darryl and Maria Roberts to film the wintry landscape as they drove around their neighborhood Wednesday. The couple, with their children in tow, couldn't believe the sight. "It's unbelievable," Darryl exclaimed over and over, as his children begged to go outside and play in the snow. The video has sparked quite a response on iReport.com today. It's been viewed more than 160,000 times and many people left comments criticizing the couple for not letting their children enjoy the rare snowfall. As it turns out, Darryl and Maria did allow their children, ages 8, 10 and 16, to play outside once they returned home. "They had never seen snow," Darryl said. They made snow angels for hours and built their first snowman. The family made sure to take photos of the memorable experience. Has winter arrived early where you live? Share your photos and video, and tell us how the weather is affecting you.
The key word here is "friendly." There've been a couple of pretty big blowups lately between members of our community, and some folks have posted iReports with personal attacks against other users. This is not OK. If you do it, we will remove the post. If you do it a lot, we will be forced to terminate your account. We really don't want to do this, so if you are having a problem with another member, please let us know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you see a comment or an iReport post that you think violates our Community Guidelines click the report violation link and we will check it out. Thanks.
One of my favorite iReport memories of 2008 was a sad time for us and many iReporters, but a good time to reflect on the history and future of one of the world's most treasured amusement districts. The beloved Astroland amusement park closed in September, and I can't get enough of iReporters' pictures of Coney Island or stories about the hot dogs and oddities. I'm not sure if I'll ever get to visit the area, and if I do, what will it look like? iReports are probably the only way I'm going to see the old version of Coney Island, and they provide a wonderful window onto this amusement Mecca. We heard from generations of people who remember spending time there as younger folks, like dallaspanda, who recalls hearing stories of her Vaudeville heritage. Why, her grandfather was a ventriloquist, even. On the flip side, we heard from maddogza, a young student who also feels connected to this strange, wacky and weird place. For me, it was interesting to see several generations of people coming together to celebrate this piece of offbeat Americana. I thoroughly enjoyed trying to make sense of all the content we received, and the iReports eventually turned into a video for CNN. My love of the so-called "freak show" extends to other areas and I have to admit I'm a sucker for anything offbeat and weird. For example, WayneB caught my eye with videos about a zombie walk and a man seeking a Guinness record for the world's tallest Mohawk haircut. Hey, it's all for a good cause. Just a couple entries down, you'll find me musing about ice-covered flamingos. We just got an icy gargoyle the other day, and a mass of Santas. You can bet I'll be heading out on Saturday to seek out Santacon's scheduled meeting in Atlanta. So thank you, iReport, for showing me things I would never otherwise see.
When Hurricane Ike hit the coastal town of Gilchrist, Texas, in September, it destroyed nearly everything in its path, save for one yellow house that grabbed nationwide attention. It was the only structure standing on the Gulf side of the town, amid a sea of devastation, thanks to a strong foundation built to meet Texas windstorm standards. That home belongs to Pam and Warren Adams, who we met through Pam's sister, Judy Hudspeth. Judy contacted the iReport team today to let us know that Pam and Warren have decorated their battered house for the holiday season. Because the area is still without electricity, a generator powers the Christmas lights. "Pam decided Gilchrist needed some Christmas spirit, so she gave it a tree and lights," Judy said. The couple was forced to move into an apartment after Ike hit, but Judy said they spend a lot of time repairing their beloved home. "Pam goes down there Friday after work and stays all weekend. Warren is down there most of the time; he's not the type to sit around an apartment all day." "They're still the only ones left down there," she said. "I think it'd be a little scary staying down there, with no one around and no power." But they are determined to fix their home, Judy added. Decorating for the holidays is just the beginning. Read CNN's coverage of the Adams' story
NakedBoyNews got a great shot of snow in Las Vegas this morning before he left for work. His friend Keely Bond was out and about, however, and he encouraged her to share her photos with iReport.com as well. Bond’s photos showed how widespread the snow was in the west side of Las Vegas, and she pointed out that the snow there had actually been going on for several hours. So the next time something newsworthy happens, feel free to tell your friends about iReport.com and help them set up their own profiles! In the meantime, if you (or your friend) have photos of ice and snow, share them with us! UPDATE: And a tip of the hat to rosehips who got her friend troiano to start iReporting!
yorksnbeans caught our attention today when she issued a challenge to her fellow iReporters: Describe the holiday season in just one word. There have been some great responses so far. Users shared the classic "peace" and "love," while CrazyCueball opted for "insanity." yorksbeans isn't the only iReporter to share an assignment suggestion. lamichaela came up with the idea for our Etch-A-Sketch solicitation, and SlickNick provided the inspiration to ask iReporters to take a walk around their neighborhoods. Do you have the next great assignment idea? Share it in the comments!
When you live in Atlanta like I do, the weather can be unpredictable and unseasonable. We don't have the kind of winters that some places do, and I grew up in Arizona, where the temperatures are typically in the 60s, 70s and 80s in December. Horrendous, right? iReports are my main window on the world when it comes to weather. When we start seeing images of berries and yard flamingos covered in ice, that's how I know that winter is here. (Thanks sbmichaels and olani!) This is iReport.com's first big cold snap; I live vicariously through you. So now that we can see that Old Man Winter is shaking his crotchety fist at us, keep those weather iReports coming. I don't get snow on my lawn furniture, so I want to see yours.
Have you seen our iReports from the virtual world of Second Life? (Or the latest story CNN has put together about them?) We have several longtime contributors who have been giving us the skinny on the goings-on in Second Life since the inception of the hub that has grown to occupy its own island. The stories we've gotten have been as diverse as the people and avatars who have sent them. JaneyBracken has established herself, in particular, as a reporter with wide knowledge of SL and regularly contributes with friend and iReporter HibiscusH. We even got two great pieces of machinima, or machine cinema, recently from iReport.com users krazykizza and isfullofcrap. One details a model of Shakespeare's Globe Theater while the other talks about a Holocaust museum in SL. Given the stunning and constantly evolving quality of these SL iReports, we want to take this assignment to the next level by focusing on a specific story topic each week. We'll start off now by asking for your stories of relationships of all sorts forged within the virtual confines of Second Life. Tell us how these connections have changed your life, both in SL and the "real world," if there is such a thing. We can't wait to hear your stories.
Here on iReport.com, we see a lot of breaking news. But from time to time, we also see fascinating -- and relevant -- historical submissions. We asked you for your parents' and grandparents' stories of the Great Depression, for example, to see what lessons they would hold for surviving today's tough economy. You sent in many touching and insightful stories and photos, like this one from Sheila Elrod, and we turned them into this piece on CNN.com. But some of the coolest historical iReports this year came in response to the Georgia-Russia conflict in August. The conflict brought up Cold War memories for many iReporters, especially veterans. I was blown away by an amazing video sent in by Mark Watts. He served as a gunner's mate on the USS Yorktown during the Cold War, and he was onboard in 1988 when a Soviet ship rammed the Yorktown, apparently trying to throw it off-course. Some historians have called this the last major incident of the Cold War. One of the ship's photographers, Darin Walter, captured the entire frightening scene on video -- and 20 years later, Watts sent the video into iReport and was able to share it with the world. We featured Walter's and Watts' photos and video in this CNN.com story about the Georgia-Russia conflict and Cold War memories. So yes, iReport is about current events, but it's also about history. Your memories from the past have great insight and bring a crucial perspective to CNN's reporting. After all, journalism is really the same as history -- it's just a bit faster. What iReports stood out to you this year? We're sharing the ones we remember most, and we'd love for you to give your favorites a shoutout.
When we learned that naked baby on Nirvana's breakthrough album "Nevermind" is now a 17-year-old high school graduate, it seemed the perfect time to ask iReporters for their thoughts on the album and the "grunge" era. AmyAimlessly stood out from the rest with her before-and-after photos from her teenage grunge years and today. "Although I don't often like to tell my age, that has never stopped me from telling stories of being a part of the excitement that Nirvana's music brought to the music scene," she wrote. "I don't know if it's my age at the time or if I just got lucky but I truly believe that Nirvana, its predecessors and like bands of that time will forever be thought, to me, to be the best and most influential music of my life." Thanks for sharing, Amy. Rock on.
Being able to stop by a local diner, feeling a sense of community and passing by unique landmarks on the way to work are some of the pleasures of living in a close-knit area. Neighborhoods are more than collections of houses, and we're beginning to see stories about the changes they're going through due to the economy and worldwide news. SlickNick's strolls through Rochester, New York, have been simple, yet powerful, reminders of how macro affects micro. His photos of everything from declining mom-and-pop establishments to timely public art have shown us both the whimsical characteristics of his area and the powerful effects of the stories you read in the paper. Other iReporters, like rosehips, followed suit and did their own neighborhood tours. This response made us think other iReporters might have meaningful stories to share about the places where they live. For our latest over-the-weekend assignment, we'd like you to take a walk through town and show us what's going on in your neighborhood right now. Send us photos and video, and we'll be checking back in over the next couple of days to see what you've sent. >> Submit your story
Among the most incredible stories to take iReport.com this year was that of a mystery ship which was uncovered in the wake of Hurricane Ike in Fort Morgan, Alabama this past September. VickieBoozer first shared photos of this amazing find on the beach, and her iReport was followed by more photos and video from tammygb39, igniting continued interest in the community on this ship and where it came from. Soon several iReporters, especially those in the Fort Morgan area, pitched in with more photos as the ship remained and appeared to cause quite a stir on the beach. This was also not the first time the ship had been uncovered. The Birmingham News reported that it had been partially uncovered by a hurricane back in 1969. As interest in this story in the community continued, ChrisEger from Pascagoula, Mississippi iReported about his theories after copious amounts of research and traveling to examine the ship himself. He summed up the three leading theories as to the origins of the ship. Finally, both VickieBoozer and tammygb39 shared photos of the ship being covered up with sand in October. We may never know exactly where it came from, or if it will ever be uncovered again, but it was an excellent example of an intriguing story driven by the iReport community. Do you have any great iReport memories to share from this year? Give a shout out on video!
As I drove home from work Monday evening a funny little smiley face danced in the sky, and I made a note to myself to head out and photograph it before it went away. Unfortunately for me, the clouds rolled in before I made my move and I didn't snap a picture. But it looks like I was the only one. Every time I checked in on iReport.com Monday night I'd see a photo of the bright triangle from a new place in the world, as the iReport.com community filled up the map all on its own -- Italy, Australia, Lebanon, Thailand, New Jersey. It's amazing to think how far away we can be from one another and still share the same experience. And how the iReport.com community working together can push a story to the top of iReport.com and then over to CNN. Did you see it, too? Show us what it looked like where you live.