A walk down memory lane: Celebrating Joe Flanagan's career!

Saying goodbye to 13News Now's Joe Flanagan

(WVEC) -- This week is a bittersweet one for us here at 13News Now, as we say goodbye to longtime reporter and weekend anchor, Joe Flanagan.

In his final week before retirement, we're looking back at some of Joe's favorite moments during his 30+ years with WVEC-TV.

Kicking off day one of memory lane, Joe explains in his own words what this particular story meant to him...

Monday: Flanagan Family Vacation

The first one I chose was what we called my "Great American Family Vacation."

In 1997, then news director Keith Conners told me to take a small, handheld video camera and produce a five-part series with my family on vacation. I was thrilled. And I was even more excited when he said to take the company van they gave me, the Flanavan, which many people still ask me about now in 2016.  In 1997, it was all painted up and called The Spirit Wagon.

My wife Cindy and I loaded up our three children and headed to Ohio.  I was shooting everything. Stays in hotels. Swimming in pools.  Cookouts at my sisters house in Dayton, Ohio.  And the long road to Washington DC for our final chapter.  To make sure we had professional video for part five of this extravaganza I had Mike Babcock a 40 year veteran at WVEC-TV meet us in DC.  It turned out to be a wise move.

Incredible to look back at this story.  My children are 19 years older now.  So am I. So is Cindy.  But what a wonderful career at 613 Woodis Avenue, home of WVEC-TV.

Four more days.  Four more stories to stroll down memory lane.

Tuesday: Joe's Favorite Promo and the Holiday Salute

Shortly after the Tom Hanks movie Forrest Gump came out and was a big hit, we decided to do a promo that was a take-off on the movie's now-famous running scene. So photographers Bryan Barbee and Phil Wright and I went out to Norview High School and shot video of me running through the goal posts. It was hilarious.

And I wanted to show one moment from our Navy Christmas Specials, now known as Holiday Salute. The one I chose was from 2002 on the carrier USS Harry S Truman. It opens with the fantastic editing of Bryan Barbee and his tradition of using the Nutcracker music.

For nearly 20 years, that music and that style of opening became our signature to a program that Hampton Roads viewers loved.

Wednesday: Joe's Job Corp leads the Doo Dah Parade

In 1992 Festevents decided to try a noon-time, zany fun parade on April 1st called the Doo Dah Parade.

The creative services department at ABC13 wanted a Joe's Job entry among the 50 to 60 units signing up to participate.  So they asked a local prosthetics company to make a mask of Joe's face.  And then I asked 30 fraternity brothers from Sigma Phi Epsilon at ODU to join me dressed as different occupations.

The Joe's Job Corp stole the show! I led the way in a regular coat and tie, while my 30 closest look-alikes walked behind me. People on the sidewalks were just howling with laughter.

When they announced Joe's Job Corp won the first ever Doo Dah Parade, we were ecstatic!  The camera turned to me and I exclaimed, "We're going to Disney World!"

Thursday: Drum major marching with Norfolk State!

The year was 1992 and Joe's Job had been going strong for six years.  I was invited to try out as a drum major with the Norfolk State Marching Spartans. 

Talk about a challenge!  We turned it into a two-part series.  Part one was practicing on campus at Norfolk State.  Part two was the actual game with Virginia State at Foreman Field, one week later.  I'll never forget the date: October 27, 1992.

On the field at halftime, the feeling was just surreal.  I had a nine-minute routine to go through and I had two captains flanking me and they put me in the middle, and named me Commander Groove.  The audience was just cracking up. 

The music was special and the dancing was outstanding.  I think I made the comment that 182 out of 183 were fantastic.  Yes, there were that many students in that performance.

"Go Joe!  Go Joe!  Go Joe!" was the chant as I even had to dance to my seat with my two captains.

Of the 1,500 Joe's Jobs I've done at WVEC-TV in 31 years, this one with Norfolk State goes down as the most popular.  Over the years I have had more people comment on this one than any other Joe's Job.  And I loved it!

"Don't quit your day job, Joe," was pretty much the sentiment of the president of NSU and his wife Dr's Harrison Wilson and Lucy Wilson.  Great people.

Friday: To Ireland and Back

It was 1993 when WVEC-TV or ABC13 allowed me to travel to Ireland and do a half hour special tracing my mother's Irish roots, to air on Mother's Day.

The final chapter of that half-hour special is a segment that I use time and time again, whenever I give speeches and make personal appearances. It takes place at Cobh Harbor, and is the place where anyone from Hampton Roads who had Irish connections left via boat for America!

The most sentimental part is the end where my mother, Harriet, is writing a thank you letter for the wonderful trip. She had never had a passport and she had never been out of the U.S. A real tear-jerker, and a fitting way to end my week-long look at my favorite stories.

Thank you to you, the viewers. You welcomed me into your homes, and you always made me feel like I was on the right track, covering human interest stories in Hampton Roads.


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