2017 Year in Review: The lighter side of 2017


INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - As we near the end of 2017, WTHR's digital staff compiled a list of the 13 most clicked-on feature stories on WTHR.com and the WTHR News app from the past year.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The list below does not necessarily represent what WTHR.com considers the "best" or most important features of the year. Rather, it represents the stories or ongoing storylines that were most clicked on by our readers across our digital platforms. These stories also represent the most clicked-on feature stories of the year; Click here for our look back at the the more serious stories from 2017.

Looking for a refresher? Just click on the headline to see our full coverage.

13) Surge of Confidence: North Central High School names transgender prom king

When Alan Belmont was named Prom King at North Central High School in April, he knew he was likely making school history. "I want kids to know that confidence is the key to surviving bullying. If you love yourself, negative words mean nothing if you know they aren't true. Believe your own happiness and love over others' negativity and hate."

12) Garth Brooks creates special memory for Indianapolis couple

During the first of his five-concert tour in Indianapolis, Brooks stuck to his end-of-concert tradition of playing fan requests and reading signs in the crowd. Adam Salzman and Olivia DiFilippio were in the sixth row and held up a sign saying, "Garth, help us choose our wedding song." He saw it, talked to them for a minute and then serenaded them to their now-wedding song, "To Make You Feel My Love."

11) Peyton Manning statue unveiled at Lucas Oil

The Colts unveiled a statue of Peyton Manning on the north plaza of Lucas Oil Stadium on a Saturday in October. The next day, his jersey was retired and he was inducted into the Colts' Ring of Honor during halftime of the Colts game against the 49ers. He was the first player of the team's Indianapolis era to get that honor. Manning led Indianapolis to its only Super Bowl victory, 29-17 over the Chicago Bears in 2007, and was voted the game's MVP.

10) Only in Indiana: I love you guys

It is not unusual to see a panhandler working a street corner, but Jeffrey Layman has carved out quite a niche for himself on Rockville Road and Interstate 465. He first went there two years ago when he was homeless. Enough passersby gave him money he was able to get a place to live. Now he wants to pay it back, so he uses his bucket not to sit on and ask for money, but to clean up the ramps and medians at the intersection.

9) Black Friday reporter loses cool

Not everyone feels like they got a good deal on Black Friday. That's especially true for WNDU (NBC - South Bend) reporter Joshua Short. Short went out to report at a mall in Mishawaka at 5:45 a.m., an hour before stores were supposed to open, but no one was there. Needless to say he wasn't very happy about the lack of crowd, and he let everyone know it.

8) Vivid meteor seen across multiple Midwest states

Video showed the meteor in the northwestern sky in Lisle, Illinois - a western suburb of Chicago on February 6. Sightings were also reported in Wisconsin and Michigan. Several WTHR viewers described the meteor as one of the brightest they've ever seen. Meteorologist Jeff Last of the National Weather Service's office in Green Bay, Wisconsin, says the meteor was accompanied by a sonic boom that shook houses in the region.

7) Lip-synching State Police troopers return at Indiana State Fair

We first introduced this group to you at last year's Indiana State Fair when they nailed the "Grease" classic "Summer Nights." For their 2017 return, they rocked out to Thin Lizzy's "The Boys are Back In Town!"

6) Huge rattlesnake spotted in Brown County State Park

If you don't like snakes, this one's not for you. Indianapolis resident Susan Apple posted video of a rattlesnake slithering across a trail at Brown County State Park in July. Apple said her son, Clayton Fleener, spotted the snake when he was in the park. Fleener reported it to a park ranger who told him they knew of the snakes in the park, but they're rarely seen because the snakes don't like people. The ranger also said the park had been tagging and tracking the snakes.

5) Muncie Police release 'hot cop' calendar

The Muncie Police Department released a calendar featuring their officers Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017 (photo courtesy Kishel Photography)

You may remember the "hot cops" of Gainesville, Florida from your social media feeds during Hurricane Irma cleanup, but Muncie's police officers already had a "hot cops" calendar in the works at that point. The department released the full calendar in September in partnership with Kishel Photography. Proceeds benefited local domestic violence victims.

4) Peyton opens up about retired life

It's not often the same person ends up on our countdowns twice in one year but if anyone was going to do it, Peyton Manning's one of the most likely candidates. He sat down one-on-one with our Dave Calabro looking to the future now that he's no longer in the NFL. He also had a little more fun with some pre-recorded sketches at the ESPY's, which he hosted this year.

3) Pence ladies' inaugural gowns

Pence dresses (L-R) Charlotte's dress (left), Audrey's dress (middle), Sarah's dress (right)

Our readers took a break from reading about the politics of the presidential inauguration to check out the gowns the Pence women wore to the inaugural balls, which were made even more special because Karen Pence turned to Indiana dressmakers to make hers by hand.

2) April the Giraffe

A giraffe's gestation period is 13-15 months long, and hundreds of thousands of people spent most of that time watching one giraffe in particular last year and into this year, waiting for her to give birth to her calf. In fact, more than 1.2 million people were watching the Animal Adventure Park Live Stream in April when 15-year-old "April" went into labor.

1) Total Solar Eclipse

Americans gazed in wonder through telescopes, cameras and disposable protective glasses in August as the moon blotted out the midday sun in the first full-blown solar eclipse to sweep the U.S. from coast to coast in nearly a century. Indiana is projected to be in the "path of totality" during the next solar eclipse in 2024.

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