July is here and it's central Minnesota's time to shine.
Outsiders may make jokes about the North Star State's winters but few of our friends in southern climes would hesitate to swap climates with the Brainerd lakes area for the next six weeks or so. That's just one of the reasons why this area is a prime destination for vacationers in what many natives argue is the finest month of the year.
The region's lakes, woods and rivers are a cooling salve for those seeking respite from the noise and congestion of an increasingly urban world. Although our highways and streets may be busy with traffic, first-time visitors are amazed with how easy it is to find peace and quiet, just off the beaten path.
Those seeking a bit of family fun and the hubbub of people enjoying the summer sunshine also know there's more to do in the Brainerd area than just nap in the hammock.
This week in particular, as area cities kick off their July 4 activities, community calendars are chock-full of information on parades, live music, softball tournaments, art shows, foot races, car shows and fireworks. These summer days are what folks mean when they talk about the good life in Minnesota.
This year, as our military personnel continue to face the hazards of war overseas, it's particularly important to be mindful of those men and women who are protecting our way of life in far less hospitable climates. Stand up when the color guard carries the flag past your parade-viewing spot. The respect you show our flag and our veterans groups will be noticed by youngsters who'll hopefully learn there's more to July 4 celebrations than fireworks and candy.
Enjoy the week. Throw some bratwurst on the barbecue. Gas up the boat. Put your dancing boots on. It's summertime and the living is easy.
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