Watch some of our favorite videos from 2017

Daring escape from Ukraine brings an orphan to her new family

As an orphan in Ukraine, Ana Katruk was deemed unadoptable. But thanks to much hard work and prayer, she’s now officially the daughter of Mike and Kristy Johnson of Cary, NC.
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As an orphan in Ukraine, Ana Katruk was deemed unadoptable. But thanks to much hard work and prayer, she’s now officially the daughter of Mike and Kristy Johnson of Cary, NC.

The News & Observer’s photo staff spent 2017 documenting life in our community. We’ve looked through the hundreds of videos over the year to bring you a few of our favorites.

In August, Julia Wall sat down with Mort “Bottomless Pit” Hurst as he trained for a competitive eating comeback. Read Josh Shaffer’s story about the ups and downs of Hurst’s career: He once ate 38 eggs in 29 seconds, then had a stroke. Here comes his comeback.

At the height of his fame, Mort Hurst ate 21 whole watermelons in 10 minutes. He gobbled 1,248 pistachios in half that time. He consumed 7.5 pounds of collard greens in front of a thousand screaming fans – a superstar of stomach-busting feats, unt

Ethan Hyman’s video about Mike Phillips and his “Men at Work” looked at a Raleigh icon that was moving out of downtown after 29 years. Read the story on the move here: After 29 years, Men at Work car wash is leaving downtown Raleigh.

Mike Phillips and his crew, mostly men who have served time in prison and are working to improve their lives, have been washing cars and cracking jokes in Raleigh for over 29 years.

Robert Willett and writer Andrew Carter spent a year visiting Woody Durham, “The Voice of the Tar Heels,” who was struggling with a neurocognitive disease that threatened to rob him of his ability to speak. See our entire three-part series at: Woody Durham’s quiet fight.

For 40 years, Woody Durham was the voice of the Tar Heels, their radio play-by-play man. The Smith Center had been his place of work. Now, a neurocognitive disease threatens to rob him of his ability to speak.

Many will remember the massive fire in downtown Raleigh in March. Travis Long got a bit too close for comfort to get this video of the inferno. Read some of our coverage at Massive March 2017 fire destroys unfinished apartment building in downtown Raleigh.

News & Observer photojournalist Travis Long was on the scene as firefighters began to fight a massive fire in downtown Raleigh the night of Thursday, March 16, 2017.

In May, Juli Leonard captured the final dance of of ballerina Lilyan Vigo Ellis, who performed the lead role in the Carolina Ballet’s production of “Carmen” as the finale to her professional career. Read her story here: One last big role and then this ballerina is hanging up her pointe shoes.

Ballerina Lilyan Vigo Ellis dances in final role as 'Carmen'

Casey Toth delved into the world of boxing to tell the story of Marko Bailey, the “Bull City Bully,” training in hopes of becoming a world champion. Read his story at ‘He could be a world champ,’ veteran ring trainer Turner says of The Bull City Bully.

Surrounded by soybeans, hundreds of miles from home, 23 year-old Marko "Bull City Bully" Bailey trains with renowned, 78 year-old Don Turner who has trained 24 world champions. Bailey might be his 25th, if he wants to be. He faces Stevie "The Answ

In a story we’ve been following for several years, Juli Leonard got to document the happy ending for Ukrainian orphan Anastasia and her adoptive family in Cary. This will bring a tear, and a smile, to your face. Read Ana’s story: A horrible childhood. A daring escape from Ukraine. And now, a forever family.

As an orphan in Ukraine, Ana Katruk was deemed unadoptable. But thanks to much hard work and prayer, she’s now officially the daughter of Mike and Kristy Johnson of Cary, NC.

A bit of whimsy from Travis Long, who combined drone footage and sound to give readers an immersive experience at Wilson, N.C.’s Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park. Read David Menconi’s story at: They twirl, spin and mesmerize, and now they have a home for everyone to see them.

Thirty of the late folk artist’s works have been gathered, restored and put on display around the perimeter of this 2-acre park in downtown Wilson. Years in the works, it has its grand opening Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017 right before the annual North C

These four sisters have been singing together and bringing the gospel love for more than 40 years. Julia Wall (with an assist from the Music Maker Relief Foundation) spent time with the Glorifying Vines Sisters, catching that spirit. David Menconi wrote this story: From NC to Switzerland, this group of singing sisters brings tent revival fervor to their music.

The Glorifying Vines Sisters got on a plane for the first time in August to travel to a festival performance in Lugano, Switzerland with the Music Maker Relief Foundation. The gospel group will be performing at Wide Open Bluegrass Friday night.

Finally, a look at the most recent chapter of the North Carolina - N.C. State football rivalry. The Wolfpack landed a hard-fought win over the Tar Heels at Carter-Finley Stadium, Julia Wall caught the sights and sounds. Here is Jonas Pope IV’s story from the game: Nyheim Hines breaks for a pair of scores, leads NC State to win over rival UNC.

NC State's Wolfpack landed a hard-fought win over UNC's Tar Heels while at home in Raleigh's Carter-Finley Stadium on Saturday November 25th.

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