If anyone dares to say they are bored in the Northland, clearly they are walking around with their eyes closed — or not venturing outside. After all, the communities here are doing a bang-up job of offering lots of variety in community outings.

In just a few days, the cities will start marking Independence Day. The Shoal Creek Living History Museum will get the party started on Saturday, July 1, and the family-friendly freedom festivities will keep flowing through the actual holiday. If you’re willing to take a short drive to a neighboring town, you can spend multiple evenings under the glow of a professional fireworks display. The skies will be lit up in Kearney, Liberty, Smithville and beyond.

Communitywide activities are important and even necessary for the good health of communities. They are like family reunions, a time when we see our friends and neighbors and all are gathered for the same purpose: to enjoy a spirit of camaraderie. Our own staff feels it each time we show up, notebooks and cameras in hand, to chronicle one of these gatherings.

It’s a time when people drop some of those personal guards and look forward to connecting to their neighbors. Just like at those family reunions, it’s refreshing to be able to experience a sense of belonging to something bigger than ourselves as we partake of good food and find entertainment at the ready.

In our fast-paced lives, we often forgo those connections or even deprive ourselves of the simple joys of stepping away from technology and remembering what it is to look at a sky full of fireworks or a great local band.

In the past two months, the Northland communities have done a stellar job in appealing to these qualities. There’s been free movies in the park, outdoor concerts featuring hometown and national acts, farmers markets, and countless other events promoting community use of community amenities. Visitors, too, are welcomed. Cyclists rode into Kearney earlier this month with the Big BAM. Medieval reenactors brought the Lilies War to Smithville Lake again. Liberty celebrated the summer solstice with song after song during Make Music Day.

The schedule is full week after week. There’s much more to come than we can list here. So consult the newspaper’s Out & About calendar (found on Page B6), ask a neighbor for a recommendation, or just head to the nearest downtown or park and check out what’s going on.

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