MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota was the central focal point of news quite a bit in 2017, and a lot of it wasn’t positive. But only a few stories made us stop and wonder, “Could this have happened anywhere else?” From Mary Tyler Moore, to hot dish, to moose and frigid lakes — here are seven stories that emboldened our Minnesota pride this year.

“Warm Weather Means Winter Water Skiing In Twin Cities”

winter water skiing The ‘Most Minnesota’ Stories Of 2017

(credit: CBS)

Let’s face it: the window of opportunity for Minnesotans to enjoy a non-winter season is quite brief, and we’ll take any chance we’ve got to enjoy the sun. But just because there’s sun doesn’t mean it’s not cold…

When watching this story, keep in mind the date — Feb. 11. Sure, the average temperature on that day approached record highs (63 degrees in Minneapolis), but any true Minnesotan can tell you – that sure as heck doesn’t mean the water’s warm. But that didn’t stop these fellas from water skiing down the Mississippi.

Here’s a quote that could only come from a Minnesotan water-skiing in February: “You actually get pretty hot under this.”

“Mary Tyler Moore Statue Returns To Nicollet Mall”

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Mary Tyler Moore at the dedication of her statue in 2002 (credit: Mike Ekern/Getty Images)

When the Nicollet Mall project was first announced years ago, many wondered what would happen to the beloved statue of Mary Tyler Moore. City officials assured us it would return when construction completed in 2017 – and return it did, though bittersweet.

This year, we lost a beloved Minnesota icon who helped put the Twin Cities on the map. Sure, she wasn’t from Minnesota herself, but on the Mary Tyler Moore show she represented our state to millions across the country. She even inspired a few WCCO newsies to get where they are today.

So when she left us Jan. 25, we mourned her as one of our own. It was good to see her back on the main drag in Minneapolis last month, but a bronze statue just isn’t the same as the real deal. She really did make it, after all!

“Rep. Peterson Wins Annual Hotdish Off With Bear Meat Recipe”

collin peterson The ‘Most Minnesota’ Stories Of 2017

Collin Peterson (credit: CBS)

Each year, our representatives on Capitol Hill take part in a friendly cooking competition for the most Minnesota recipe of all: hot dish.

This year, the victor was the representative for our state’s 7th Congressional District, Collin Peterson. He called his dish “the Right to Bear Arms,” and he meant that literally — it used meat from a real bear. That he killed himself.

In fact, this story might’ve been the perfect storm of Minnesota cliches were it not for one damning detail: Peterson shot the bear in Wisconsin.

“Mall Of America, The Largest In The Nation, Celebrates 25 Years”

mall of america The ‘Most Minnesota’ Stories Of 2017

(credit: CBS)

Roller coasters and a theme park in a mall? It seemed far-fetched a quarter century ago, but now it just seems like a way of life. Love it or hate it, the Mall has been a focal point in Minnesota ever since it first opened in 1992 – from happy days shopping with friends, to choirs singing in the rotunda, and even to more poignant moments of protest.

Despite a decline in brick-and-mortar retail stores across the country, the Mall of America isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, and it’s likely to be a defining piece of Minnesota for years to come.

Moose Rescued After Falling Through Thin Ice In Northern Minn.

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(credit: Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Dept.)

There are two things about this story that make it stand out.

First, it’s a story of a Minnesotan going out of his way – even risking life and limb – to help out an animal in desperate need. The term “Minnesota Nice” might apply (its negative implications notwithstanding), but a story of someone doing everything he can just to save a wild animal seems to fit nicely.

Secondly – moose. What’s more Minnesotan than a guy helping a moose?

“Stores Busy As Sunday Liquor Sales Start In Minnesota”

sunday liqour sales The ‘Most Minnesota’ Stories Of 2017

(credit: CBS)

In 2017, we saw the death of one of the most Minnesota conversations, practiced by generations of its residents: complaining about the Sunday liquor sales law. The Minnesota statute born amid the prohibition era was on life support for the past several years and finally ended Sunday, July 2.

The scene that day was one only Minnesotans could understand – gobs of people waiting outside liquor stores before opening, expressing their glee in a way that would make typically restrained Minnesotans blush: “It’s the best thing that’s ever happened since I’ve been born.”

“Man Who Found Kidnapped Girl Gives $7,000 Reward To Her Family”

missing alexandria girl reward The ‘Most Minnesota’ Stories Of 2017

(credit: Alexandria Police Department)

Finally, a story of unadulterated kindness. Earl Melchert found 15-year-old Jasmine Block in his yard in Grant County this summer, thousands of Minnesotans breathed a sigh of relief. She was missing for weeks and, in the days that followed, detailed the horrific torment her captors inflicted upon her.

As with most missing cases, a reward was offered — $7,000 in this case. Earl came by the police station weeks later to collect it, and did something that stunned everyone in attendance – he turned around and handed that money right to Jasmine herself.

Maybe this story doesn’t have the right Minnesota keywords or feelings, but it’s a type of kindness that we witnessed at WCCO in countless ways this year. So despite some of the more bleak and heartbreaking stories we reported in 2017, we’re choosing to remember this one as most representative of our state.

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