Good News

The Best Local Feel-Good Stories of 2022

We rounded up a bunch of stories from 2022 that made us smile. We hope they do they same for you.

By Megan McDonald December 29, 2022


It might be easy to give 2022 a big side eye—and between the bleak national news cycle, a local listeria outbreak, the devastation wrought by Hurricane Ian and the return of red tide, we wouldn't blame you. But there were so many feel-good stories this year, too. We've rounded up a few of our favorites that we make you feel happy, as well. 

These Adorable Local Shop Pets Will Make You Smile

Have you ever walked into a shop and been greeted by a friendly employee who licks you and jumps on you? Yes, you read that right. The employees we’re talking about are shop pets (like Max from Brant's Bookstore, pictured at top). And in pet-friendly Sarasota, you can find many local businesses that have a dog, cat or even bird attending to their customers. Read more here.

This Sarasota Native Helped Make Top Gun: Maverick the Real Deal

Sarasota-based former Navy Captain Brian Ferguson consulted with the crew and trained the stars of Top Gun: Maverick for accuracy, safety—and just keeping it real. He even made it into a few scenes. Read more here


A New Mural in the Rosemary District Honors Baseball Icon Buck O'Neil

John “Buck” O’Neil grew up in what is known today as the Rosemary District. His legacy is immortalized with a larger-than-life mural that was unveiled the same day O'Neil was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Read more here.

Pine View School’s Garden Is Teaching Kids the Importance of Sustainability

Pine View's garden is almost completely student-run, and all materials used in its development were repurposed. “These kids really know their stuff,” garden club supervisor and Pine View mom Lesley Sachs says proudly. “They often help me teach the younger students that come in for classes.” Read more here.


This Sarasota Duo Is Killing Invasive Lionfish in a Tiny Yellow Submarine

Scott Gonnello and Scott Cassell are finding new ways to rid the waters of this invasive species, which wreaks havoc on coral reefs—and they're doing it from a banana-colored submarine named Great White. Read more here

Local ‘Joggler’ Barak Hirschowitz Is Training to Compete in the Chicago Marathon

Yes, juggling and jogging at the same time is a thing—it’s called “joggling”—and Barak Hirschowitz, who we wrote about in 2019, does it well. Locals often spot Hirschowitz joggling over the Ringling Bridge in downtown Sarasota. We caught up with him earlier this year to find out what he's been up to. Read more here


Hurricane Ian Destroyed a Myakka Woman’s Property. Then a Stranger Stepped in to Help.

Eva Wolbers, who fosters and trains animals in need, estimates 30 mature oaks came down in the storm, destroying her home, barn and pastures. “I couldn’t see my house. Four trees were in my driveway alone,” she told us. “There were 10 on my neighbor’s fence.” Luc Dierens, the owner of Eco Pro Outdoor Solutions, says he would have quoted the job at roughly $20,000. But he’s doing Wolbers’ work for free. Read more here

A Home Built by Some of Bradenton’s First Settlers Is Saved from the Wrecking Ball

The Tole Fogarty House was built in 1871. It’s now getting a second chance at life thanks to Dr. Harold Ott, who has a passion for restoring historic homes. Read more here

Sarasota Cars & Coffee Is Bridging the Generation Gap

The monthly gathering of car enthusiasts averages about 500 cars per month, with attendees ranging from high schoolers to octogenarians and cars ranging in value from $10,000 to $200,000. But perhaps the dual nature of cars as both historic and cutting edge makes them an ideal vehicle to bring people of all ages together. “I think it would be rare for an 18-year-old to start talking to an 82-year-old if there wasn’t a subject we were both excited about,” frequent attendee Marty Quadland says. Read more here


Image: Miri Hardy

Small Handmade ‘Chick Huts’ Help Our Beach Birds Stay Cool

The wooden huts, which offer shore birds a respite from the scorching sun, are a gift from local bird enthusiast Sandy Ulrikson and her late husband Jerry. Read more here

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