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These are 10 stories that made us smile in 2022

2022 was a tough year in many ways. But while life struggled to return to something resembling normal after two years of a pandemic, there was still a lot to smile about. Here's a look back at 10 stories that made us smile this year:

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10. First Super Soap Box Derby delights Pittsfield's west side neighborhood

Soap Box Derbies might seem like a picture of days gone by, but this neighborhood is bringing them back — to the delight of young and old.

9. Now, it's time for the weather. We turn to Jacob Klein, 14, of Pittsfield

Good news. If you’ve grown weary of the full-throated, Zeus-sounding weather pronouncements of radio and television, you now have an alternative: Local boy and self-described “weather warlock," Jacob Klein.

8. Take a tour of 97-year-old Laurie Cormier's latest exhibit and hear about his memories of a well-lived life

Over a span of 72 years, Laurie Cormier created more than 1,000 paintings, about a dozen of which are held in the permanent collection of the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge. Since his arrival at Kimball Farms Nursing Care Center, the hallway of the L wing has been transformed into a high-end art gallery of townscapes, landscapes and wildlife scenes.

He’s prepared to give a full accounting of his 97 years of life, contingent upon two things. Only if you really want to hear about it. And only if you’ll stop him if he’s getting boring.

7. Thanks to the Suns and the Brockton Rox, it was a day to remember at Wahconah Park for Evan Franz

Evan Franz of Tamarack, N.Y., thought it was going to be a good day to meet members of the Brockton Rox who were the children of Boston Red Sox legends he grew up rooting for. Little did he know that the Rox and the Pittsfield Suns put together a surprise at Wahconah Park that included a one-day contract with the Rox and an at-bat against Pittsfield starter Freddy Mosier.

6. Norah Smith has eight new grandmothers. The lessons flow two ways out on the water

Who remembers this inspirational story about a group of cancer survivors rowing each week, a local teen as coxswain? It’s a heart-warming story about community and about celebrating every single victory. 

5. Here's the unlikely story of a North Adams man and a 40-pound wooden statue named Captain Ahab who travel the world together

Captain Ahab has been making people smile on his many adventures all over the world: whitewater rafting, skydiving, to kiss the Blarney Stone in Ireland, to the Iowa State Fair, to the New York Comic Con, and to the top of Kilimanjaro. 

4. What does it take to get a high school band ready to march in the 66th Fall Foliage Parade in North Adams? Practice, practice, practice

It isn’t easy to get everyone ready to march for a mile with their instruments. We caught up with Pittsfield High School marching band and teacher Ashley Paradis before step off of the 66th Fall Foliage Parade and learned all about what it takes to get ready to march. 

3. A surprise final encounter delivers an Appalachian Trail takeaway: 'It's the people I've met'

Berkshire Eagle reporter Greta Jochem hit the Appalachian Trail at the Connecticut line on Aug. 1, with plans to hike the state's 90-mile segment, and her trail check ins quickly became a favorite for Eagle readers. In her fifth and final report, she describes a slippery ascent of Mount Greylock and other outtakes from her trail notebook, including one final memorable encounter.

2. Ron Kujawski is giving up his column writing, but not the ‘holy crawl’ (ever!)

For 27 years Berkshire Eagle readers tuned in to benevolent nag Ron Kujawski's gardening column, Garden Journal, which he gave up earlier this year. But you can’t be Ron Kujawski —the go-to gardening guru for generations of would-be, could-be, want-to-be home gardeners in the Berkshires — and then simply disappear into your cabbage patch without comment.

1. Meet Tommy, the ginormous Brown Swiss ox in Cheshire who has a growing TikTok audience

Who didn't fall in love with the story of Tommy, the apple-loving Brown Swiss ox whose job is keeping owner Fred Balawender young? He's a beloved fixture at Winterpast Farm in Cheshire — and an ambassador for the love shared between farmers and their animals.

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