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Refined Review: Our Favorite Stories of 2020

Seattle Refined's TV team took all the curveballs 2020 had to offer and still managed to create funny, wonderful and heartfelt stories for the show — utilizing Zoom's recording feature a lot. Our TV team was still able to safely get out in the community here and there to showcase how Seattleites were coping and making a difference this year.

Refined's TV and digital teams virtually got together to record our "Seattle Refined Favorites" end-of-year special this month, where we chatted all about our favorite stories of the year. It aired on Tuesday, Dec. 22, but if you missed it, don't worry! Here's a recap of our favorite TV stories of 2020:

Ken Jennings preps for the ultimate 'Jeopardy!' showdown

"I think one of my favorite stories of 2020 was when I went with John Prentice, and we got to interview Ken Jennings before he headed down to L.A. to be on the 'Greatest of All-Time' tournament. He ended up winning it. With Alex Trebek passing away this year and Ken Jennings has now taken a major role on 'Jeopardy!' I now see how really special that interview was," said senior TV producer Jenna Luthman.

Tubing on the slopes

Just one month before Washington's first shutdown started in March, TV producer/reporter Brandon Burnstead and our host Gaard Swanson went snow tubing at the Summit Tubing Park in Snoqualmie.

"I always find an excuse to get to the mountain during the winter," said Brandon. "I took Gaard, and we went inner-tubing at Snoqualmie Pass. It feels like a lifetime ago, but we had a ton of fun, and I think it was a little more physical than either of us planned."

Last Resort Fire Department, preserving Seattle's vintage fire trucks

Of course, one of TV reporter/producer John Prentice's favorites was when he visited Last Resort Fire Department, an organization dedicated to preserving historical items relating to the Seattle Fire Department.

"It was so cool," he said. "I met this guy, Galen, from the Last Resort Fire Department and he collects everything with the Seattle Fire Department. He's a former firefighter, he has trucks, books and gear, and I got to play with it all."

Kingston's Firehouse Theater: A 'Reel Life' feel-good film

TV reporters/producers Malia Karlinsky and Ty Huffer's story on Kingston's Firehouse Theater was one of the last assignments our team got to shoot together before lockdown.

"Ty and I did a story literally before [everything] went bad, and it was the last story we did," said Malia. "The date was March 6. We took a ferry to Kitsap Peninsula and went to the Firehouse Theater there [...] it was about a sweet man trying to save his movie theater."

Local teens transition their scrunchie business to face mask business

"We've actually met so many incredible people through this COVID journey, including a pair of sisters up in Snohomish who had a business making scrunchies before this, and they transitioned to making face masks when everything went bad," said Malia. "I talked to the mom [recently], and they have made 7,000 face masks from when COVID started, and they've given 3,000 away to essential workers."

Lake Stevens kindergarten teacher goes viral on TikTok

Another one of our favorites was our story about Mackenzie Adams, who quickly shared a day-in-the-life of teaching kids video on her TikTok — and it went viral, with total views topping 11 million! Adams is a kindergarten teacher in Lake Stevens over at Glenwood Elementary.

Refined Adventures

Refined has always loved anytime we get to feature something adventurous, and we were still able to safely get out and go on some adventures this year — like when Brandon and John went flyfishing and also went on a helicopter ride over Seattle, or when Gaard and his kids got to experience Lake Union's Donut Boats!

How Canlis switched from fine dining to casual

COVID didn't stop Brandon from covering restaurants this year — like when Canlis closed their stunning dining room and became a drive-thru.

"The last day I was in the office, actually I went to Canlis during their burger pop-up and shot it all on my iPhone," he said. "Canlis has flipped multiple times during this. They have a yurt village, now a community college and that's just one example."

Move over ice cream trucks; the Milkshake Jeep is in town

Many restaurants got creative this year, like when Eden Hill Provisions chef/owner Maximillian Petty and his team spent several weeks turning an old jeep into a milkshake mobile. It got a fresh pink paint job, along with a sound system, lights and three milkshake machines in the back. No surprise - the jeep became an instant hit. It made appearances at weddings, graduation parties and nearby neighborhoods, sometimes serving just a couple milkshakes, sometimes as many as 70 in a single hour.

"A lot of what restaurants have done during this time, and it has been a trying time, is gotten creative," said Brandon. "I think it's been very rewarding for me to see how these restaurants and these chefs are trying to make it work because restaurants have been hit so, so hard during this pandemic, and if we could do a little bit to draw attention to them then I think that's incredibly important."

Egghole: Home to Breakfast Sammies and 'Pour Your Own' Tap Wall

Egghole. is one of our favorite stories that did very well on social media — it opened in Kent this year, serves tasty breakfast sammies and has a "Pour Your Own Tap Wall" with 30 adult beverages.

The Fry Guys: Now is the Time to Try Some Fries

Another restaurant that opened this year and did well on social media was The Fry Guys, which specializes in a solitary, crispy, crunchy, golden, glorious type of food — loaded french fries.

"John and I went to The Fry Guys," said Malia. "It just opened, and to me, it was like a ray of sunshine cause it was this act of hope that this young man opened a restaurant in the middle of COVID."

Class of 2020 Special

One of our most special shows was our "Class of 2020 Salute," a full show dedicated to celebrating the Class of 2020 during this truly unprecedented year — jam-packed with celebrity shoutouts and inspirational stories.

"It was something different, you know, [from] our normal shows," said editor Dan Liberator. "When we have an opportunity to do those special shows, it was great."

Meet Bunny, the talking dog in Tacoma who's captured the world's attention

We got to meet with Alexis Devine of Tacoma and her dog, Bunny, who she has taught to talk using a pegboard with buttons that sound a word when pressed (inspired by Hunger for Words). And... low-key, Bunny dissed us on the way out.

Touring the Alpaca Farm vacation rental on Camano Island

This story quite literally made Refined's web managing editor Britt Thorson grab her laptop and book a stay at the Alpaca Retreat, a one-of-a-kind vacation rental on Camano Island with some unusual neighbors — alpacas!

Puget Sound Goat Rescue has rescued, rehabilitated 3,500 goats and counting

Nestled in Maple Valley is Puget Sound Goat Rescue, a nonprofit goat rescue and quite literally heaven for Malia, who loves goats!

"But what you guys didn't see is John is really into goats, too," she said. "He actually started prancing around like a goat!"

Switching up roles

We couldn't end this article without mentioning how two members of our TV team, John and Ty, really stepped out of their comfort zones this year, creating some pretty incredibly unique stories: DIY Pink Flamingos, building your own mini hot rod stroller, how one couple transformed their mini community library into a "peep" show, cooking Elvis' favorite dish, among others.

That's a wrap on 2020 — here's to the stories we get to tell in 2021.

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