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Moments in 2021 that shaped Tampa Bay

From Gabby Petito's death to COVID's summer wrath and the school mask debates, 2021 will be remembered for years to come.

TAMPA, Fla. — Dreams came true in 2021 when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the Super Bowl in February.

The year showed dreams can come true twice when Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup back-to-back. Champa Bay Sports brought joy to last the year, which was needed, considering 2021 also had its darker moments.

The FBI investigation into Gabby Petito's is still ongoing after her body was found in Utah. Her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, disappeared and his body was found in Sarasota County's Carlton Reserve in October. 


The year also pushed health care workers to their breaking point even more. Florida COVID-19 hospitalizations peaked over the summer from the delta variant. 

In the spring, a breach at the Piney Point site in Manatee County prompted officials to pump millions of gallons of wastewater into Tampa Bay. The impact of red tide over the summer forced some area counties to spend millions of dollars for clean up.

The start of the school year also divided people based on schools' mask mandate debates.

RELATED: Judge rules DeSantis administration can ban mask mandates in public schools

In April, a jury found former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was guilty of murder in the killing of George Floyd. The conviction meant accountability for many, including in Tampa Bay. 

When the new year starts, history will be made when St. Petersburg's Mayor-Elect Ken Welch takes office as the first Black mayor in the city's history. 

One of Tampa Bay's most loved, Winter the Dolphin, died in November. A virtual reality exhibit will be set up at Clearwater Marine Aquarium to honor her legacy.

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