By editorial board • 

Year was wild and wacky, but who'd expect any less?

The News-Register staff has been busy this week with an annual rite of passage in newspapers everywhere — taking a look back at the outgoing year to chronicle its highlights and lowlights in words and pictures.

Fortunately, the week between Christmas and New Year’s is typically the deadest of the year, news-wise.

Schools, businesses and agencies all scale back to the bare minimum, in deference to the holiday season’s traditional celebration and reflection, and it tends to leave a void. Even our community’s reckless and criminal elements seem to take time off.

Newspaper staffers have found reflection on the past 12 months can be a useful exercise, both for them and their readers, and the holiday pause in the normally hectic pace of life and work makes it more feasible than it might prove otherwise.

Leading the big story list locally are homelessness, Third Street development and redevelopment, Linfield’s tortured travails, the heated county strike, and growth, housing and UGB expansion, among others.

Sears closed, as did Nick’s, Red Fox, Geraldi’s, RB Rubber and other local fixtures. But other ventures moved in to take their place, including Taste of India, Pinch, Cypress and new wine venues too numerous to contemplate.

Meanwhile, Geraldi’s found a new home over on 99W. And okta, the highest-end of our local high-end eateries, won acclaim as one the nation’s crème de la crème.

We elected a new representative to fill District 6, a new U.S. congressional seat, in Andrea Salinas, and a new legislator to represent Oregon House District 24 in Lucetta Elmer. Along the way, we made national news by rejecting the congressional bid of a candidate who parachuted in with millions in crypto-currency cash to spend.

We turned down a Portland entrepreneur’s $60 million downtown hotel venture, but appeared more welcoming to a local bid to rehab the Mack Theater and replicate the attached downtown hotel property. We appeared on the verge of bidding adieu to our venerable Turkey Rama celebration, but perhaps taking a run at a differently oriented replacement.

We welcomed a new name, Willamette, for an old school, Columbus, though to mixed reviews. Some felt rescinding recognition of Christopher Columbus was long overdue, in light of his now well-chronicled misdeeds; others considered it just one more example of political correctness run amok.

Our own take? This is not something worth getting worked up about. The new name is about as plain vanilla as they come. We’ll all get used to it in the due course of time.

We’ll leave it to the big boys, led by the venerable New York Times, to delve into the leading headline-makers on the national-international front. However, we can’t help but reflect back a bit on some of the odder out-of-the-ordinary entries.

Who’d have guessed a private deep-diving submersible and Chinese high-flying spy balloon would both captivate the world in the course of the same crazy year? A married congresswoman would make headlines by publicly groping her date in a theater, all while vaping, singing and generally making a fool of herself? One of the nation’s largest newspapers would hire a full-time reporter to cover pop star Taylor Swift?

This time last year, did anyone foresee Canadian wildfires turning the New York sky a foreboding brown? Kid Rock turning Bud Light into a cultural and political flashpoint? Elon Musk turning Twitter into an X-rated shadow of its former self? Quarterback Aaron Rodgers turning his new team’s high hopes to dust on the season’s opening drive?

We’ve had our share of crazy turns and twists around these parts, but nothing to compare with those of the national and international stage. One can only marvel at all the stranger-than-fiction fare 2023 produced before moving to take its final New Year’s Eve bow.

Will 2024 prove any different? Well, it depends on how you define the term.

If you mean stuff of like ilk, though not identical, you can pretty much bank on it. If you mean stuff ranking lower on the utterly unimaginable scale, good luck with that.

It defies human nature to think someone somewhere won’t do something equally convention-defying next year, and find ample company in that.


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