Bright Spots in Dark Times (Edition #3)

June 29, 2020 by Leela Bozonelis

If human history tells us anything, it’s that the impulse to rise above and make the most of even the worst situations burns deep inside us. This is confirmed, yet again, by this collection of touching and lighthearted COVID-19 stories our third edition of “Bright Spots in Dark Times.” We share these stories that we discovered on Nexis Newsdesk™ in the hopes they will cast a little bit of light on your day.


No Distance Too Far

Juan Manuel Ballestro desperately wanted to see his elderly parents during the pandemic. But there was a rather large obstacle in his way: the Atlantic Ocean. You see, Juan lives in Portugal and his parents live in Argentina¾but COVID-19 put a stop to virtually all commercial air and marine travel. In a move that speaks volumes about the sea-deep bonds of family, Juan decided he would captain his small sailboat the roughly 9,000 kilometers (5,600 miles) of Atlantic Ocean that lie between him and his parents. His trip was no pleasure cruise. Lack of wind stalled Juan for 10 days. He had to enter shark-infested waters to scrape barnacles off his boat. But Juan prevailed. He made the journey in 85 days, tested negative for COVID-19 upon arrival and was able to visit with his—no doubt very proud, very happy—parents.

A Brand-New Panda Family

Much has been written about how the lack of normal human activity around the world has had positive environmental effects, thanks to less pollution and fewer disruption to natural habitats. With many zoos closed to visitors early this year, those animals had a quieter existence. Zookeepers at Everland, an amusement park in South Korea, believe that this more peaceful period likely helped inspired two giant pandas to mate. In late July, the pair, Ai Bao and Le Bao, welcomed their healthy baby, who weighed in at a mere .19 kilograms (seven ounces). It’s true: sometimes the best things come in small packages.

Feeding the Hungry

One of the many disturbing real-world implications of the pandemic is food shortages. One cause is that crops are rotting on some farms due to lack of demand from grocery stores. This is happening despite the fact that far too many people are going hungry as a result of COVID-19-related unemployment. George Ahearn, from Washington State, USA, stepped up with some friends to help remedy this heartbreaking issue. They arranged for truckloads of onions and potatoes that would have otherwise gone to waste find their way to local foodbanks. This massive effort required that the produce, fresh out of the ground, be cleaned and bagged, which is just what George and his team did. We salute them—and thank them too.

Go Ahead, Let it Out!

Who amongst us hasn’t felt a certain urge to let out a scream of frustration about the pandemic? Well, here’s our chance. An Icelandic tourism company is inviting you to scream your heart out online—and they will broadcast your recording into the open wilderness of their country. Your scream need not be an angry one, It can be goofy or odd if that fits your mood. You can even choose to record a pleasant greeting for the remote landscape, perhaps by wishing the rocky terrain a lovely, landslide-free day. Of course, the tourism company hopes that when the pandemic passes, you’ll visit Iceland to enjoy yourself, not to scream. To record your scream, visit their website: Looks Like You Need to Let It Out.

Every Princess Deserves a Sculpture

COVID-19 has caused many sporting and social events to be postponed or even cancelled. But the organisers of the Minnesota State Fair in the United States refused to let the pandemic ruin one of their cherished traditions. For decades, this state fair has chosen a young woman to serve as its “Dairy Princess,” an honor akin to being named a parade marshal. Each year, an artist sculpts a bust of the princess. The medium isn’t stone but rather a 41-kilogram (90 pound) block of butter. This year, though the fair has been cancelled, the sculpting of butter will happen it will even be livestreamed on Facebook. Take that COVID-19!