Radio Iowa’s Pat Curtis reviews the top human interest stories of 2013: AUDIO (runs 2:59)
The year started with a march down Pennsylvania Avenue for a group of young Iowans who took part in the Inagugural Parade for President Obama.The Isiserettes Drill and Drum Corps, a group of roughly 50 drummers and dancers between the ages of 7 and 18, also marched in the Inaugural Parade in 2009.
New U.S. Census data released this year shows the Asian population is now the fastest growing racial or ethnic group in Iowa. In 2012, the number of people living in Iowa who identified themselves as Asian climbed to just over 60,000. That marks a 10.6% increase from 2010. Latinos making up at least 10 percent of the population in 10 Iowa counties, a jump from seven counties in 2008.
Hollywood actor and Iowa native Ashton Kutcher drew praise in August for a speech at an awards ceremony in California — The 35 year old who was born in Cedar Rapids revealed his middle name is Ashton and his first name is Chris. “There are some really amazing things that I learned when I was Chris and I wanted to share those things with you guys because I think it’s helped me be here today,” Kutcher said. Kutcher was speaking at the Teen Choice Awards after receiving the evening’s top honor, called the “Ultimate Choice” award. “I believe that opportunity looks a lot like hard work,” Kutcher said. “When I was 13 I had my first job with my dad, carrying shingles up to the roof and then I got a job washing dishes at a restaurant and then I got a job in a grocery store deli and then I got a job in a factory sweeping Cheerio dust off the ground and I’ve never had a job in my life that I was better than. I was always just lucky to have a job.” According to Kutcher, every job he’s ever had has been a “stepping stone” to his next job — and he told the crowd he’s never quit a job before he had another one lined up. Video of Kutcher’s speech has generated millions of views online.
In October, a celebration was held in Corning to mark the opening of the Johnny Carson Birthplace. Carson occasionally mentioned his Midwestern roots on “The Tonight Show” and one evening he called Mabel Gaskill, a Corning woman who babysat a one-year-old Johnny Carson for three days when his mother was hospitalized. “What kind of a kid was I?” Carson asked. Gaskill replied: “Well, you were a real good kid, a real cute kid.” The Carson family lived in Corning for three years. Carson hosted “The Tonight Show” for 30 years. He died in January 2005 at the age of 79.
One of America’s oldest roller coasters, located in northwest Iowa, is carrying thrill-seekers again after a major rehabilitation project. The Legend Roller Coaster at Arnolds Park amusement park is believed to be the 13th oldest operating wooden roller coaster in the U.S. Park spokesperson Di Lorenzon says crews spent eight months and $250,000 rehabbing the ride. About one-third of the 1,500 foot track was replaced. Further renovations to the old coaster will be done over the next three to five years. One of the improvements to the Legend includes new concrete footing below the coaster’s peak hill, dubbed “The Point of No Return.”