The coronavirus decimated holidays in 2020, along with parts of some professional sport seasons, major events like the Grand Prix and Belmont Shore Christmas Parade, along with dining, shopping and entertainment as we know it.

The health pandemic, along with the protests and unrest over police brutality that erupted last summer, also managed to eclipse some significant news stories that would have made an end-of-year Top 10 list in any year but 2020.

Remember JetBlue leaving the city? Or when key members of the Queen Mary operating team were arrested in Singapore? We also had a couple elections this year that were pretty significant.

Here’s a short list of the huge news events that may seem a bit blurry in the backdrop of this obscenely busy news year.

JetBlue departs for its final flight out of Long Beach Airport on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. Photo courtesy of Erik Skindrud / @Erik_Bookman.

JetBlue departs Long Beach after years of acrimony. Long Beach’s prized airport underwent significant changes in 2020, most notably the departure of JetBlue, the city’s longest running airline and the former sponsor of its annual marathon.

JetBlue had been slowly scaling back operations since the city in 2017 decided against allowing a customs facility, which would have paved the way for international travel. The airline had also been racking up fines for late-night flights in violation of the city’s strict noise ordinance.

In July, JetBlue announced that it would leave Long Beach for good by adding more flights out of Los Angeles International Airport. The last JetBlue flight departed from Long Beach on Oct. 6.

Southwest Airlines has since become the dominant carrier in Long Beach, now with 34 daily flights to destinations across the country.

Gulfstream is leaving Long Beach over the next six months. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

Gulfstream leaves Long Beach. In late October, Gulfstream announced it would depart from Long Beach, taking almost 700 jobs with it—a decision that caught city officials by surprise.

The company, which operated in Long Beach for 34 years, said it will expand operations at its Van Nuys, Georgia and Wisconsin facilities. The move is expected to happen by the spring, leaving a 22.5-acre parcel near the airport open.

The Queen Mary in Long Beach Thursday, October 1, 2020. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

Queen Mary operators arrested in Singapore. In mid-October, authorities in Singapore arrested several current and former directors of a real estate trust that operates the Queen Mary on suspicion of failing to make required disclosures to investors.

The news was the latest setback for operators in charge of a 66-year lease with the City of Long Beach to run and maintain the historic ocean liner.

The prior month, one of the principals in charge of running the ship was also accused of improperly applying for a more than $2 million federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan.

Heading into 2021, the fate of the ship remains unclear as deferred maintenance piles up and passenger fees from cruise liners—used in part to pay Queen Mary expenses—has dried up.

Suely Saro, 6th District city council candidate, thanks supporters while at her campaign party in Long Beach Tuesday, March 3, 2020. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

The Year of the Woman. Women assumed positions of prominence in the city, county and country this year, a development that should’ve received more acclaim. Of course the election of California Sen. Kamala Harris as the first female vice president is historic, but other significant milestones were achieved closer to home:

  • Suely Saro became the first Cambodian woman elected to the Long Beach City Council in the 6th District after she defeated longtime Councilman Dee Andrews. Her election also means that Long Beach returns to a female-majority city council, which first happened in 2006.
  • The five-member Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is not just female majority—but now all female for the first time in its history, a milestone achieved when state Sen. Holly Mitchell in November won the District 2 seat that was formerly occupied by Mark Ridley-Thomas.
  • The Long Beach Unified School District Board of Education hired the district’s first-ever female superintendent, Jill Baker, to replace the outgoing Chris Steinhauser.
  • The city’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has been led by Kelly Colopy, director of the city Health Department, and Dr. Anissa Davis, the city’s health officer. The county response, too, has been led by Barbara Ferrer, director of the Department of Public Health, and Christina Ghaly, director of the Department of Health Services.
Long Beach Community College District president and superintendent Reagan Romali. File photo.

LBCC trustees fire president-superintendent after months of acrimony. In early March the Long Beach City College Board of Trustees fired President-Superintendent Reagan Romali after months of turmoil.

Two members of the trustees—its then-president Vivian Malauulu and Uduak Joe-Ntuk—and Romali had exchanged accusations of corruption, retaliation and misuse of public funds. The board in November 2019 had hired an investigator to look into Romali for possible misuse of public funds, mistreatment of staff and other matters.

The investigation into Romali was later expanded to include Trustee Sunny Zia, who has been accused of being complicit in Romali’s behavior.

Romali, meanwhile, said that the board members were retaliating against her for filing a 1,000-page whistleblower complaint in September alleging unethical and self-serving dealings by some members of the board.

The new replacement Gerald Desmond Bridge over the Port of Long Beach in Long Beach Thursday, October 1, 2020. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

The new Gerald Desmond Bridge Opens. After seven years and roughly $1.5 billion in construction costs, the Gerald Desmond replacement bridge that connects Downtown to the Port of Long Beach at last celebrated its grand opening in early October.

The six-lane, cable-stayed bridge will provide a major new regional highway connector between Long Beach and Los Angeles as well as improve cargo movement for the Port of Long Beach. The bridge still hasn’t yet been named.

Editor’s note: this article has been updated to reflect a female majority council first occurred in 2006.