By Amelia Santaniello

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Next week Amelia Santaniello celebrates 25 years in Minnesota and at WCCO. From the anchor desk, to every corner across the state, it’s been her honor to share your stories with curiosity and compassion.

This is Amelia’s love letter to you, Minnesota.

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Minnesota — it was love at first sight.

After moving around most of my life as a military brat, this felt like home. I arrived in May of 1996 and jumped right into everything that makes a Minnesota summer special; our lakes, outdoor dining, outdoor concerts, and I learned that just about everybody heads up north to their cabin or a friend’s.

The highlight was the Great Minnesota Get-Together.

Then just like that — a real Minnesota winter. I quickly learned weather unifies us. From a gripe to share with a stranger to communities coming together in times of disaster, the Minnesota climate bonds us together. I witnessed the outpouring of support when a tornado tore through St. Peter.

Minnesota sports teams were on a roll when I got here. I loved traveling to New Orleans to cover the Gopher women in the Final Four. The city was alive cheering on the Timberwolves in the playoffs of the mid-90s. We’ve celebrated Lynx championships, and hosted national events like the Super Bowl and Final Four. I still pine for the day our teams play in one.

I also grew to love youth sports here as a mom watching my three kids compete in a state that keeps producing national caliber athletes.

There has also been plenty of hard news to test our resolve and bring us together.

I’ll never forget being in the newsroom when we heard the unthinkable, that the 35W Bridge collapsed into the Mississippi River. And after years of looking for Jacob, heartbreak and closure for the Wetterling family.

The musician associated with Minnesota, suddenly one day was gone.

Then, a year of unprecedented changes. A pandemic that shut us down and changed the way we work and live. After years of welcoming me into your homes, Frank and I welcomed you into ours.

In the middle of it, a murder that moved hundreds of thousands to march for change as Minneapolis became the center of a global discussion about policing and civil rights. From what I know about Minnesota, we have what it takes to learn and make this a better place for everyone.

I can’t believe a quarter of a century has flown by so quickly.

I remember so many stories and people but would like to forget a couple of the hairstyles. You brought me into your homes, offered advice, support, and encouragement through two pregnancies and provided a wonderful place to raise three little ones into young adults.

I love this place even more today than when I first made it home.

Amelia Santaniello