Blog : April 2011
Celebrating the wedding worldwide »

iReporter Jemma Nyagah watched the wedding with friends and family in Nairobi, Kenya.

 

The wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton was a truly global event, so it only makes sense that iReporters around the world celebrated the big day together.

 

As people tuned in to watch the royal affair, CNN iReport issued a series of fun quick-fire challenges. First off, we asked iReporters to show us what they were serving to compliment the event. Kim DeGiulio of Tempe, Arizona, got up bright and early to watch the wedding with an English-style breakfast of eggs, beans, toast and tea. And Molly Fassbender and Rachel Fischer enjoyed a meal of scones and clotted cream while celebrating in Munich, Germany.

 

When it came to hats, iReporters didn't disappoint. Ethel Forward donned a red-white-and-blue bonnet in Geneva on the Lake, Ohio, and Angie Sprague of Atlanta, Georgia, created a “last-minute fascinator” using straws, tinsel and tissue paper.

 

And the fun didn’t stop there. We also asked the community to recreate the kiss, rate the wedding (Shari Atukorala gave it a 10 out of 10) and give us a glimpse of their viewing parties.

 

CNN.com will replay the royal affair at noon ET, so it’s not too late to join in! Become a fan of The Royal Wedding on CNN on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to see all of the challenges. We can’t wait to celebrate with you!

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katie
// April 29, 2011
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CNN iReport roundtable: Thursdays at 3 p.m. ET »

Please join us here at 3 p.m. ET for  our weekly roundtable discussion. We've got a lot of cool projects going  on right now that we want to tell you about.We're also happy to answer  any questions you may have about what's going on in the community.

 

If  you can't make it at 3, feel free to leave your questions in the  comments below and we'll try to answer them once the roundtable starts.

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davidw
// April 28, 2011
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Royal wedding, royal rumble »

 

London’s calling, and Our royal wedding iReport contest winner Jason Sauter of Orlando and his girlfriend, Nancy Vidarte, have been submitting some excellent reports on the sights and sounds of Merry Olde England as they prepare for the royal wedding tomorrow. Above, Sauter reported this morning from the gates of Buckingham Palace as the groundskeepers readied for the festivities.

 

 

Earlier, the duo was on-hand at the Canada Gate at Buckingham Palace as NBC hosts Matt Lauer and Meredith Viera arrived. As you can see in the background of the video above, CNN’s own Brooke Anderson managed to sneak in and grab a quick interview with Lauer.

 

 

All of London is abuzz with excitement over the impending royal nuptials, and Sauer and Vidarte caught the glimpse above of a true-blue British celebration: A storefront party on Oxford Street. At the fete, the revelers inside were dressed up as Prince Charles, the Queen, the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, and other royal celebrities.

 

 

Sauter and Vidarte also got a chance to check out CNN’s media room for the royal wedding, located at the media tower in front of Buckingham Palace. Vidarte checked out the camera that will be filming the “kiss shot” when William and Kate finish their wedding with a smooch heard ‘round the world.

 

If you're as excited for the royal wedding as these two are, be sure to join in on the fun and send your thoughts on the festivities to iReport!

Posted by: jmsaba // April 28, 2011
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iReport unveils Facebook integration »

Our development team has been hard at work on some awesome new features for CNN iReport, and we’re excited to announce the rollout of some brand-spanking-new integration for iReport and Facebook. iReporters can now link their accounts to their Facebook profile, so that their iReports will publish directly to their Facebook pages.

 

When you click on your iReport profile page, you’ll see a new “Connect with Facebook” button under the “Connect Accounts” section. Click the button, enter your login information, and make sure that you hit "Allow" on all the permissions pop-up box. Voila, your iReport and Facebook accounts are connected!

 

The Facebook integration system works a little differently than the usual “Share on Facebook” buttons you might have seen around the iReport site. Once your accounts are linked, every time you successfully complete the upload process for an iReport, it will automatically generate a link to your report and post it directly to your Facebook wall.

 

Now, your friends and family can all see your awesome iReports as soon as you post them. iReport and Facebook: Together at last!

Posted by: jmsaba // April 28, 2011
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Rocking out with Team Coco, Mashable »

 

When we saw the video featuring a dance move called the "goodie grabber," we went through several stages of reaction: fascination, shock, denial, revulsion, amusement, visceral horror and acceptance. Just ... watch Tyler Rigney and Jared Sparkes' "goodie grabber" dance demo for yourself.

 

Meanwhile, Katrina Sagun of New York recently showed us how she organized her desk. She says it's like a mullet: "business on one side and party on the other."

 

These two submissions are totally different, and pretty hilarious. But they're also both examples of the great submissions we've gotten via our ongoing partnerships with Team Coco and Mashable. We're excited about these projects because they give us opportunities to try cool new things and introduce new members to our community.

 

In the case of Team Coco, Andy Richter from TBS' "Conan" asked the iReport community for help coming up with a signature dance move. iReporters responded with freaky lawnmowers and collar kickers, and even a rooster strut. Then, Team Coco's Andy Richter-esque dancers re-enacted the dances in their shirts, ties and skirts. Mel Haynes Jr. of Denver, Colorado, ultimately won with an arm-waving sort of dance.

 

Thanks to the creative workspaces project we did with Mashable, in which we asked people to show us their customized desks and other setups, we got a cool glimpse of how people view their relationship with their working areas. Aaron Traffas of Wichita, Kansas, proved to be quite the handyman with his standing desk arrangement. But we were equally intrigued by Mark Van Patten of Bowling Green, Kentucky, who apparently was "'Mad Men' before 'Mad Men' was cool" with his super-frugal vintage office.

 

These two recent awesome projects with our partners have warmed our hearts. We love meeting these wonderful new iReporters, and working with Team Coco and Mashable allows us to do just that.

 

Building off these successes, we hope to do more with our partners. And be on the lookout for more excellent projects to come, because we're always looking to see what's out there.

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nsaidi
// April 27, 2011
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CNN iReport Millionaire’s Club: Welcome KCRep! »

“I’ve been starstruck since I was 10 years old,” wrote Kathi Cordsen on her iReport profile, which now sports a snazzy “Million page views” badge.” Cordsen has been iReporting regularly on the world of television since 2009, but really started sharing her thoughts on shows like “Dancing with the Stars,” “American Idol” and “Grey’s Anatomy” throughout this past TV season.


However, her most memorable moment may be when she posted an iReport question for Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. Her question was chosen, among 67 posted, to air on a September 2010 edition of “Larry King Live” featuring the imam.


Rauf’s plan to build an Islamic center near Ground Zero in New York drew passionate views on both sides of the issue at the time, and Cordsen asked him, “Why couldn’t you find another place? I just feel there’s an ulterior motive. …That you want to upset us for some reason. Is that true?”


Rauf responded, "It is not our intention to create more conflict. This is our intention to say we, as Muslims, we as American Muslims, want to contribute to the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan. We want to enhance relationships with our American non-Muslim fellow countrymen. We want to forge better relationships. And we want to be part of the solution."


Her question is a great example of the power of iReport interviews. See two more examples below, when she asked Sarah Jessica Parker about how she stays keeps up with her hectic life, and Dame Helen Mirren about her experience meeting Queen Elizabeth after making the movie, “The Queen.”




So, as you can see, this particular starstruck iReporter already has a few big interviews under her belt. Congratulations to Cordsen, a.k.a. KCRep, the latest member of the Millionaire’s Club!

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hhanks
// April 26, 2011
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The colorful side of Easter  »

 

 

Easter is a familiar holiday in many parts of the world. Here in the United States, vibrant colors, decorative eggs and chocolate bunnies have, in some ways, become synonymous with the Easter holiday. But for many, Easter is a religious holiday, celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus and rebirth.

 

In New York City, the Easter Day parade brings festive outfits, decorative props and even animals to Fifth Avenue each year. It has been a tradition in the city since the Civil War era. Long time Manhattan resident, Julio Ortiz-Teissonniere attends the parade every year and loves to photograph the frilly bonnets, costumed pets, and decked-out parade-goers.

 

Just a few blocks down, Emad Karim  also captured photos of the Easter Day celebration. Karim said he really enjoyed the spectacular costumes on display for the parade.

 

“New Yorkers are always creative in parades and every time I go to one I am surprised by their creativity and joy that spreads all over the place,” Karim said.

 

Is there something interesting happening in your area? Send us an iReport and share your story.

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Jareen
// April 25, 2011
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Video slowdown this weekend  »

Hi there - if you uploaded a video to iReport this weekend, you may have noticed that it took longer than usual to publish. That's because of a technical issue we ran into (and thankfully fixed) this afternoon. By now all the videos that were caught up in the system should have posted. If for some reason you still don't see yours, please leave a comment here or send a note to contact@ireport.com. Thank you!

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lila
// April 24, 2011
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Royal wedding frenzy »

With just days to go before Prince William and Kate Middleton's big day, lots of iReporters are getting into royal wedding mode.

 

Walking through New York's Greenwich Village early Friday morning, Julio Ortiz-Teissonniere discovered that “Kate and William fever has hit NYC!”

 

"While some storefronts are decorated with British flags and even wedding gowns, two stores in particular went above and beyond their call of duty," he said in his iReport. "One store, Tea and Sympathy, is even holding a royal wedding block party."

 

No British wedding is complete without fancy hats. Kate Middleton is highlighting the accessory by hiring famous designer Philip Treacy, who has created eye-catching hats for celebrities like Lady Gaga, to make headpieces for members of her bridal party.

 

 

Team iReport got into the spirit and challenged its community to make their own royal toppers. Cara Owen, a student from Ann Arbor, Michigan, used a glue gun, green spray paint and feathers to create a fascinator suited for a princess. On April 29, she and some friends will watch the wedding while enjoying an English brunch.

 

Speaking of brunch, food blogger Shelby Larsson said her buttermilk scones with blood orange marmalade are fit for a new princess – or anyone  planning to get up early to take in the big day. She was one of several  bakers who responded to our “royal scone smackdown” celebrating another English tradition in honor of the royal nuptials.

 

 

In Sri Lanka, royal fanatic Shari Atukorala created a lavish spread in celebration of William and Kate. Her feast included an array of delectable-looking treats, from cucumber sandwiches to chocolate gateaux, which Atukorala shared with her neighbors. She said she doesn’t know exactly “what makes me go bonkers over” the British monarchy, but her mother’s fascination with the royals had a big influence on her.

 

“I know this is what my Mum would have made for the great day,” she said. “If my mother had been living, my mother and I … would have had a ball,” she said.

 

Betty Carter  from Deer Park, Texas, had her nails decorated and painted in honor of Kate and William. Each nail symbolizes an aspect of the wedding, Carter said. One of the gems on her nail is an envelope. "It represents a love letter than William had written to Kate back when they were dating," Carter said.  Carter and her family and friends watched Diana and Charles wedding 30 years ago, taking off from work in order to enjoy the ceremony.

 

 

"We all agreed that if they had a son we would definitely stay up to watch that one," Carter said.

 

A week remains  until the royal wedding. Are you doing something special in honor of the event? Join the royal wedding open story and send us an iReport! And if you’re holding or attending a viewing party, we’d love to talk with you. Go to www.cnn.com/weddingparty to tell us about your plans, and a CNN producer may contact you.

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Jareen
// April 22, 2011
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CNN iReport roundtable: Thursdays at 3 p.m. ET »

Please join us here at 3 p.m. ET for  our weekly roundtable discussion. We've got a lot of cool projects going  on right now that we want to tell you about.We're also happy to answer  any questions you may have about what's going on in the community.

 

If  you can't make it at 3, feel free to leave your questions in the  comments below and we'll try to answer them once the roundtable starts.

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davidw
// April 21, 2011
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Soaps cancellations spark outcry »

 

Fans of serialized daytime television the world over were shocked last week when ABC abruptly announced the cancellation of the long-running soap operas "All My Children" and "One Life to Live." The former will be ending its 41-year run in September, and the latter will bow out in January 2012, after more than 10,000 episodes aired. Several iReporters responded immediately to the news, expressing their shock and disbelief:

 

 

Joshua Estrin notes in the iReport above that soaps ratings have been declining for more than a decade and a half: “Industry analysts point to the long, televised trial of O.J. Simpson in 1994-95 as the event that burst the soap bubble.” But despite the decline, he understands why these shows were special to so many: “There’s a whole generation of  people who have invested their lives in these programs. Whether you love them or hate them, they’re on the radar, they’re on the topography of pop-culture.”

 

iReporter Kathi Cordsen, a longtime fan of “All My Children,” said that the sudden cancellations felt “like someone slapped me in the face." “I’ve been watching ‘All My Children’ since I was 17 years old… Nothing lasts forever, but after 41 years it’s a little shocking to hear that we won’t be seeing Erica [Kane] any more.”

 

Brian Kirkendall, vice president of marketing at vacuum manufacturer Hoover, threw the full weight of the company behind the outcry as well. In a blog post on the company’s Facebook page, Kirkendall said that Hoover will be protesting the cancellations by pulling all of their advertising from ABC: “I want you to know from me  personally that we hear you loud and clear. My wife and mother are both passionate viewers of ‘All My Children’ and ‘One Life to Live,’ as are many of my colleagues here at Hoover. We were and are as disappointed with this news as you are.”

 

Kirkendall's company has even started a "Save the Soaps" email-petition campaign. The plot thickened when an anonymous ABC representative weighed in with TV Guide to offer the network’s perspective on Hoover’s campaign: "Usually advertisers stop advertising when they want to cancel a show, not the other way around. We've said that the cancellation of 'AMC' and 'OLTL' was about money and ratings, so [the boycott] is just counterintuitive. You don't save something by taking money away."

 

If you're feeling more fired-up about this than a handsome doctor who just met his evil twin, Cordsen has started a campaign to petition ABC by phone, right here on iReport. If you have a TV show you're eager to share your opinion about, submit your pictures and video to iReport!

Posted by: jmsaba // April 21, 2011
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Meet the royal wedding contest winner »

 

The Royal Wedding iReporter Contest was a lot of fun and we were excited to get so many creative videos from iReporters who are passionate about the royal family. Jason Sauter will be flying from Orlando, Florida, to London next week to be a part of CNN's coverage of the wedding and we want you to participate too.

 

People all over the world are making plans to watch the wedding and we would love for you to share your experience with us – whether it's in London with the crowds of revelers, at a viewing party with friends or wrapped up in a Snuggie because it comes on super-early in your country.

 

You can also participate in the iReport scone smackdown or make a fancy party hat to get you in a British state of mind.

 

Congratulations Jason and thank you to everyone who entered the contest.

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davidw
// April 20, 2011
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CNN app unveiled for Android phones! »

Fans of Android phones are no doubt used to a little bragging from their iPhone-toting friends, who always seem to get first crack at the hottest new apps. Worry no more, Android users, because CNN has just unveiled an app designed for the Android mobile platform.

 

The CNN Android app features all of the usual good stuff: Breaking news alerts, live streaming video, stories and more. And for our Android-using iReporters, this means you’ve now got the world of iReport on hand at all times! You can browse the latest assignments and view the day’s featured iReports, right on the dashboard. Even more exciting, we’ve added full functionality for uploading iReports on Android phones. If you’ve captured videos or pictures of a particularly news-worthy moment on your phone, you can submit your iReport directly from the app.

 

So, there’s nothing left to do except… get cracking! Download the CNN Android app and start uploading your iReports on the go!

Posted by: jmsaba // April 19, 2011
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Storms, hail and snow hammer central U.S. »

 

We just witnessed a round of severe storm systems batter the Midwest last weekend, but Mother Nature seems determined to make good on a promise of April showers, and then some. Of course, depending on which part of the country you live in, "April showers" can mean something very different: iReporters yesterday saw a cornucopia of severe weather, including an unseasonal blizzard in the Dakotas, hail in Texas, and tornadoes in the Plains states.


 

iReporter Julie Ellerton was vacationing this week in Highmore, South Dakota, when a sudden blizzard blanketed the town with more than six inches of snow. She was out driving early this morning when she captured the video above of road conditions in the area: “I got the train going by and then we drove into the small little town a mile away and saw the snow plow. There have been many accidents and trucks that have gotten stuck."

 

The storm manifested itself a little differently further south, as a powerful hail storm moved through parts of Texas yesterday. Sangeetha Anad and her husband braved the elements to shoot this video of golf ball-sized ice chunks pelting the suburb of Coppell. "It's the first time we've ever seen anything like this," she said. The squall lasted a little over half an hour, but their yard was blanketed in hailstones by the time the storm system moved through.

 

At the same time, the Plains states got a taste of a Spring tradition: Tornado season. Dewey Johnson was on Route 66 in Claremore, Oklahoma, yesterday when he heard tornado sirens. The warnings continued for about 30 minutes as a storm supercell approached town, and Johnson had his camera on-hand when he spotted a funnel cloud forming overhead.

 

Is there severe weather in your area? Share photos and videos of storms near you by sending us an iReport, but please stay safe.

Posted by: jmsaba // April 15, 2011
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And the nominees are: You. »

One year ago as part of our Weekend Assignment series, we asked you to help us take a walk around the world. The task for the assignment was fairly simple: film yourself taking your favorite stroll, for one minute. With all the great footage we received—more than four hundred iReports from seven continents (Antarctica? Check!)—we stitched together a video mashup of one amazing trek.

 

 

"Walk around the world," with the huge response it gathered in just 48 hours, showcases perfectly the kind of thing that the iReport community does better than anyone else: crowd-generated storytelling that is greater and more awesome than the sum of its parts.

 

Why are we bringing this up now, you ask?

 

Yesterday we got the news that "Walk around the world" was nominated for a Webby Award on the category of Online Film & Video: Video Remixes/Mashups, and we're understandably thrilled! The Webby Awards are awarded annually by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, for Internet excellence. In fact there's two awards given for each category, one chosen by the academy and the other chosen by popular vote at the Webby Awards' website.

 

"We couldn't have done it without you" feels like a huge understatement; this kind of recognition belongs to everyone in the iReport community. Give yourselves a pat on the back, go ahead.

 

Go ahead.

 

Oh, and you know what else is crowd-generated? Choosing a winner! Let's all tweet, Facebook, blog and vote ourselves to victory!

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elchueco
// April 14, 2011
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CNN iReport roundtable: Thursdays at 3 p.m. ET »

Please join us here in the blog at 3 p.m. ET for our weekly roundtable discussion. We've got some new assignments we want to tell you about, a project idea we'd like to brainstorm and a little bit of news we want to share. We'll also be happy to answer any questions comments or concerns you may have.

 

If you can't make it at 3, you can go ahead and leave your questions now and we'll answer them when we get started. We're looking forward to talking with you.

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davidw
// April 14, 2011
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Sunday storms ravage the Midwest  »

Strong storms Sunday night brought treacherous winds, torrential rainfall and tornadoes for many parts of the United States. CNN iReporters sent footage of the incredible storms that swept through much of the Midwest. Many described the recent Midwestern storm surge as something they have never seen before.

 

 

Nick Laszewski was having a cookout with his family and parents Sunday afternoon in Appleton, Wisconsin, when storm clouds started to crowd the sky. In a few short minutes bolts of lighting were highlighting the skies in a deep purple hue. “The lighting show was the best I have ever seen,” Laszewski said. But the lighting and rain were not just visually stunning. They also ended up causing some significant structural damage. “There was a hole in the side of the house. We could see insulation and drywall from the outside.”

 

 

Jim Jorstad described the storm that hit Arkdale, Wisconsin, as fast, brief and almost surreal. “It was one of the fastest moving and intense storms I’ve witnessed, and with severe damage in its wake,” he said. Jorstad noted that after the storm there were concentrated pockets of damage throughout the area with fallen trees all over the ground. “With the damage, the orange-tinged storm clouds now in the distance and the wail of sirens, it was very unnerving."

 

     

 

High-speed winds blew through Jason Asselin’s century-old home last night as ferocious storms made their way to Iron Mountain, Michigan. “I’ve been married for 10 years and I never seen my wife so scared,” he said, adding that the gusts of wind were like something from a tropical storm. “I probably scared my kids because I screamed for them to go downstairs and then I ran out of the door with my camera."

 

Is there severe weather in your area? Share photos and videos of storms near you by sending us an iReport.

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Jareen
// April 11, 2011
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You are taking a stand to end slavery »

In Seoul, South Korea, 17-year-old Priscilla Kim and her friends want the world to know that “the next generation is taking a stand."

 

Modern-day slavery is not often talked about, but we’ve learned that people all over the world are passionate about stopping the problem.

 

Last month, CNN iReport and GOOD asked readers and viewers to join the CNN Freedom Project and take a virtual pledge to end slavery.

 

We've received more than 100 pledges from people in dozens of countries (read more here). Of those, we’ve spoken to 50 submitters and found that our audience is committed to educating themselves and those around them about sexual exploitation and forced labor beginning with a simple message:

 

"I'm taking a stand to end slavery."

 

By forming a community of people committed to this issue, we hope to make a difference in future Freedom Project challenges.

 

Have you taken a stand to end slavery? What are you waiting for?

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dsashin
// April 11, 2011
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iReport roundtable: Thursdays at 3 p.m. ET »

Please join us here at 3 p.m. ET for  our weekly roundtable discussion. We've got a lot of cool projects going  on right now that we want to tell you about.We're also happy to answer  any questions you may have about what's going on in the community.

 

If  you can't make it at 3, feel free to leave your questions in the  comments below and we'll try to answer them once the roundtable starts.

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davidw
// April 7, 2011
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Extreme sports: Offbeat edition »

 

When the going gets tough, the tough get creative.

 

With a little spur-of-the-moment inspiration, an everyday sporting activity can become something unique (and even spectacular). Lately, inspired iReporters around the world have been both participating in and documenting some risky adventures, and we've been keeping up with the action on our Travel Snapshots page.

 

Sherbien Dacalanio snapped some pictures this week of nocturnal skateboarders (above) honing their skills and showing off in Manila, Philippines: "Skateboarding is a popular extreme sport here, and skateboarders practice their stunts at night. I was going to Luneta park to take photos of skateboarders and bikers doing stunts, but on my way there, I spotted skateboarders in Blumentritt, Manila."

 

 

Marie Sager visited Maeklong, Thailand, last month, and shot this video of the high-stakes game some local merchants play every single day: Setting up shop on train tracks. "I didn't realize the train was going to be that close, and it seemed like none of the other photographers did either," Sager said. "The most amazing part of the whole thing was how as soon as the train came through, they all unfolded their tents and it was immediately back to business for the market."

 

 

The recent bouts of extreme weather in the U.S. have put a twist on a few sporting standards as well. After the storms that  rocked the southeast in the last few days, Grayson Daughters captured the striking video above of a kayaker struggling through turbulent waters near Isle of Palms, South Carolina: "Post-storm, we could finally get out on the beach. It looked like a teenager showing off to his friends, and we thought he was about to be swept out to sea! He was still at it when we left, and there were some incredibly strong winds and tides."

 

 

And this past week in the small ski-resort town of  Ellocottville, New York, iReporter Jack Quavis captured an annual tradition for cold-weather thrill-seekers: the Pond Skim. These costume-clad daredevils tried to snowboard or ski over a sheet of frigid water, with more than 1,000 participants in attendance this year.

 

Do you have some pictures or footage of your own extreme-sports adventures from your travels? Submit them to iReport and  share them with the world! [Disclaimer: Extreme sports are a thrill, but compound fractures definitely aren't. Please don't try anything you're dangerously unprepared for.]

Posted by: jmsaba // April 6, 2011
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Fun in the sun with Elvis the iguana »

 

Photographer Jim Grant captured some awesome photos of Elvis the 5-foot iguana having a beach day in San Diego, California. Elvis' owner, Mike McGuire has had him for many years and enjoys taking Elvis for a little swim. "He walks with Elvis on his shoulders and throws him into 4-feet deep water. Elvis then surfs back to shore and heads up the beach. People love the show, even the women but kids especially, they are fascinated by the beautifully colored reptile."

 

Grant isn't the only iReporter who has spotted charistmatic animals. Have you encountered any in your travels or even around town? Send us your photos.

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elchueco
// April 5, 2011
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Feathers fly in far-reaching fights »

Prepare yourself for one of the more ridiculous phrases seen on CNN.com:

 

Yesterday, April 2, was International Pillow Fight Day.

 

Yep, it's true. People around the world came out to public parks and squares to participate in the feather-fueled free-for-all. And iReporters across the globe documented the phenomenon.

 

In Seattle, Washington, Kyle Aevermann organized the pillow fight for the second year in a row. He says about 200 people showed up to battle it out under the Space Needle, even though - true to Seattle form - there were a few raindrops in the air.

 

 

Chris Morrow spotted pillow fighters in costume at the San Diego, California fight. Some were dressed as anime characters, some were in pajamas, and some were just in random wacky outfits. Altogether, about 50 people showed up.

 

 

And in Paris, 200 fighters battled it out below the Eiffel Tower as spectators looked on. "It was very funny to see the event in this area of France because of the Eiffel Tower and other well known French icons in the area," says Jean-Pierre Bijouard.

 

Bijouard didn't participate this year - he was just shooting photos - but after seeing the happy atmosphere of the pillow fight, he says that next year he'll be tempted to pick up a pillow and join the glee.

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rachel8
// April 3, 2011
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Dropping everything to lend a hand »

After all the destruction and chaos left by the March 11 earthquake and subsequent tsunamis in Japan, we've been really inspired and moved by all the stories coming in from folks assisting in the relief efforts. iReporter Michael Shiffler traveled to Japan shortly after the disaster in order to assist humanitarian groups providing relief to those affected. All the while, he has been sending us images and video from his odyssey in northern Japan.

 

 

Shiffler is a freelance photography instructor and video producer from Kihei, Hawaii. Last year he assisted in the relief efforts in Haiti by finding and GPS tagging orphanages, a skill that he felt would be useful in Japan. After the tsunami hit Japanese coastal towns, Shiffler bought a plane ticket and flew to Tokyo. "Watching the incredible footage of the tsunami damage convinced me that there would be widespread destruction. Whenever there is widespread destruction, there are always smaller groups of people who will be missed by the large relief effort."

 

Once arrived Shiffler spent his first day finding a team to work with while still at the airport. Through a Facebook friend, he was referred to the MeySen Academy, a Christian early child development and English language school that in conjunction with Samaritan's Purse took up the responsibility of organizing and delivering supplies and disaster relief. "The MeySen Academy is not an NGO group; they are simply a group of concerned Christians who wanted to help. The way they have stepped up and filled this vital role is nothing short of spectacular."

 

 

Over the past weeks, Shiffler has visited locations such as Matsushima, Ofunato, Baba Nakayama and Minamisanriku — a town that as Shiffler points out is still missing 10,000 of its inhabitants. "I'm essentially a location scout. I look for people who are not getting aid, assess their needs and tag their GPS location, which is then relayed to the team leader who finds or buys the needed supplies and makes the delivery within a day."

 

 

We're really proud of the work Shiffler and all the volunteers have been doing. You can keep up with him through his iReport page and through his daily blog at www.michaelthemaven.com.

Posted by:
 
elchueco
// April 1, 2011
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