The Denver Post’s top 9 Instagram photos of 2020

Our Instagram followers double-tapped more than 374,000 times this year, but a select few images climbed to the top of the list. Everything from human rights celebrations, criminal justice reform and the felines of Tiger King graced our timeline. Here are our most-liked Instagram photos of 2020, and the stories that accompanied them. Follow @denverpost for more.

 

A concerned passerby dialed 911 to report a sobbing woman sitting alone on a curb in downtown Denver.⁠ Instead of a police officer, dispatchers sent Carleigh Sailon, a seasoned mental health professional, to see what was going on.⁠⠀
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The woman, who was unhoused, was overwhelmed and scared. She’d ended up in an unfamiliar part of town. It was blazing hot and she didn’t know where to go. Sailon gave the woman a snack and some water and asked how she could help. The woman was pleasantly surprised.⁠ This is Denver’s new Support Team Assistance Response program, STAR, which sends a mental health professional and a paramedic to some 911 calls instead of police. ⁠The combination of STAR, the co-responder program and regular police units creates a sort of continuum of response that dispatchers can choose from, Chris Richardson, seen in the above photo, said. ⁠⠀
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Though it had been years in the making, the program launched just four days after protests erupted in Denver calling for transformational changes to policing in response to the death of George Floyd. Between when the program launched on June 1 and Sept. 6 when the story posted, the STAR van had responded to more than 350 calls, replacing police in matters that don’t threaten public safety and are often connected to unmet mental or physical needs. ⁠⠀
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Read the full story and see more photos here.

After days of agonizing limbo over the state of the presidential race, the election came to a sudden close Saturday, Nov. 7.⁠⠀
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And with it came jubilation in the streets of deep-blue Denver, as hundreds of people descended on Colorado’s Capitol building to cheer and wave signs, cry and pop champagne. The outpouring of joy mirrored celebrations in Democratic cities across the nation Saturday morning after media organizations tracking the race announced that former Vice President Joe Biden had won enough electoral votes to unseat President Donald Trump.⁠⠀
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Saturday saw little conflict, save for some yelling between Trump and Biden supporters in front of the Capitol. Colorado State Patrol and Denver police officers clad in riot gear formed a wall between the two groups and roped off the area to prevent the two sides from getting face-to-face.⁠⠀
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Read the full story and see more photos here.

It’s never, ever too late to be yourself.⁠ So says Kenneth Felts, who at 90 years old came out as gay. ⁠⠀
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“He’s just so brave and he doesn’t even realize that he is, but it’s extraordinary,” said his daughter, Rebecca Mayes.⁠⠀
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Felts never planned to come out — he planned to take his secret to the grave. But while isolated during the coronavirus pandemic, Felts began working on his autobiography, which brought back a flood of memories, including the memory of his one true love. ⁠⠀
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“I’ve been in the closet all my life — deep in the closet, behind rows and rows of clothing. I’m way back there,” he said. “Opening that door at the front, I had great trepidation as to what people would say. I was very concerned because I needed people and I couldn’t stand the thought of losing them just because I decided to finally be who I really was.”⁠⠀
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These days, Felts is enthusiastically out and proud. He can often be found in his iconic rainbow hoodie and says he is done hiding and wants to make a bold statement that can’t be ignored or misinterpreted.

Read the full story and see more photos here.

Colorado passed one of the most comprehensive police reform packages in the country Saturday afternoon, June 13, and Gov. Jared Polis said he would sign the historic bill into law.⁠

Senate Bill 217 requires all officers to use body-worn cameras and release footage within 45 days, bans the use of chokeholds, limits when police are allowed to shoot at a person running away, requires officers to intervene in cases of excessive force or face criminal charges, mandates data collection to ensure cops who are fired from one agency don’t get rehired by another and allows for officers to be held personally liable for civil rights violations. ⁠⠀
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In the above image, Sheneen McClain, the mother of Elijah McClain, killed by Aurora police in August 2019, is supported by her attorney Mari Newman as McClain family members celebrate from the balcony of the house chambers as they watch the police reform bill SB217 pass with bipartisan support. Pastor Promise Lee, left, is in attendance to represent the Bailey family and the killing of De’Von Bailey by Colorado Springs police.

Read the full story and see more photos here.

Thunderbirds stream over Denver on Saturday, April 18 after the Air Force Academy’s graduation ceremony, expanding the traditional fly-over from the academy to other parts of Colorado. The F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots broke with tradition to perform a series of community flyovers in honor of Colorado’s frontline COVID-19 responders. ⁠⠀
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Earlier, at an Air Force Academy graduation unlike any other in the school’s storied history, cadets sat 8 feet apart, their faces uncovered, as Vice President Mike Pence told them a weary nation needs their leadership now more than ever.⁠⠀
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“America is being tested,” the vice president told 967 graduating cadets. “While there are signs that we are making progress in slowing the spread, as we stand here today, more than 700,000 Americans have contracted the coronavirus and tragically more than 37,000 of our countrymen have lost their lives.⁠⠀
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“But as each of you has shown in your time here,” he went on, “and as the American people always show in challenging times, when hardship comes, Americans come together. We rise to the challenge. The courage, compassion and generosity of the nation you will defend are shining through every day.”⁠

Read the full story and see more photos here.

Artists “Detour” Thomas Evans, left, and “Hiero” worked together to create a mural of George Floyd near the corner of High Street and East Colfax Avenue in Denver.⁠⠀
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Meanwhile, a ninth night of protests over the death of Floyd launched with multiple marches and rallies in the heart of Denver. While the first four nights of protests saw demonstrators clash with police firing tear gas and nonlethal projectiles, recent nights have brought large, but calm crowds. Marches planned by various groups continue to come and go from the Capitol grounds throughout the night.

Read the full story and see more photos here.

Pack a cooler, fill up your tank and head to Red Rocks to see a few American cult classics. Film on the Rocks opened for its 21st season at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on Thursday, Aug 13 with a screening of “Grease.”

In response to the pandemic, this year’s Denver Film series is drive-in style, with screenings of “The Goonies,” “Straight Outta Compton,” “Clueless” and more. The screen is the biggest drive-in movie screen in Colorado, according to Denver Film, and marks Red Rocks’ first-ever experiment with drive-in movies. Tickets are sold one per car, and include snacks and drinks.⁠

Read the full story and see more photos here.

An explosive new wildfire erupted in the Boulder County foothills Saturday, Oct. 17, forcing the evacuation of Jamestown and wide swaths of the foothills north of Boulder while sending skyward a tower of billowing smoke that could be seen across the metro area.⁠⠀
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The fast-moving CalWood fire burned more than 7,000 acres on a dry, windy day that also saw continued growth of the 2-month-old Cameron Peak fire in Larimer County — the largest wildfire in Colorado’s recorded history — and the more recent East Troublesome fire in Grand County.⁠ In this photo, a slurry bomber drops retardant over the CalWood fire near Buckingham Park northwest of Boulder.⁠⠀

Read the full story and see more photos here.

Where are the tigers from “Tiger King” now? Many of them live in Colorado, just 45 minutes from Denver.⁠ Three bears and 39 tigers that were held at an Oklahoma animal sanctuary made famous by the Netflix docu-series began making their way to Colorado in 2017 as part of a court-settlement transfer assisted by PETA.⁠⠀
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The revelation, detailed in a 2017 story by The Oklahoman, underscores the role that Colorado’s biggest animal sanctuary has played in a tale that has only recently captured national attention. “Tiger King,” which details the life and crimes of Joseph “Joe Exotic” Maldonado-Passage, is the colorful, tawdry, profane and ultimately sad story of the Oklahoma man and his exotic animal park.⁠⠀

Read the full story and see more photos here.

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