Only the entry portal at Mount Calvary Retreat survived the fire.

Ray Ford

Only the entry portal at Mount Calvary Retreat survived the fire.

The Year of Hope and Fire

Year in Pictures 2008

Photographs by Paul Wellman (unless otherwise noted)

When future generations look back at 2008 on their hand-held supercomputers, we’re pretty certain that YouTube videos about the election of President-Elect Barack Obama will dominate the screen. The Illinois senator’s battle for the White House was an emotionally charged and monumentally historic campaign, and will surely set a new and optimistic course for the United States and the rest of world, especially after eight pessimistic years of the Bush administration, which leaves office the most hated American regime since polling was created. Here in Santa Barbara, we caught Obama fever, too, but that wasn’t the only thing on our minds.

Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

Rather, wildfire burned a bright hole in our collective memories in 2008, as two major blazes-the Gap Fire in July and the Tea Fire in November-threatened to take away our homes, and then did. Though firefighters ably battled the Gap and kept it from igniting neighborhoods, the same can’t be said for the Tea, which moved too fast and furious, leaving more than 200 homes in its wake.

That’s not to say regional politics didn’t hit home, or that gang warfare didn’t scratch at the heart of our town, or that Santa Barbarans didn’t grapple with the forces of development and growth as we always do. All that happened and more, but let’s not forget the joyous times either-the concerts at the Santa Barbara Bowl, the dance performances on the stage of Campbell Hall, the sporting events and festivals that entertain and challenge us all year long.

Of course, putting an entire year together in one place is impossible, but once again, we’ve tried out best. We present to you our annual Year in Pictures edition, version 2008. Happy remembering!

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