A full class high school graduation, with stands packed with three to four generations of families as the scoreboard congratulates the Class of 2021.
The smell of cotton candy as kids beg their parents to let them go on that ride again before they leave. Or the teenageer shooting the basketball one more time to win a doll for that special someone in their life.
Mom and dads in folding chairs watching their sons and daughters begin their Summer travel baseball and softball seasons.
Hugging aunts, uncles and cousins we haven’t seen since Christmas 2019.
Gathering around a fire pit as kids make s’mores and friends enjoy an adult cocktail or two.
Bruce Springsteen’s The Rising playing in a passing car headed to the beach packed with chairs and coolers. Or Oliva Rodrigo blasting in a car filled with teenagers pulling into the county fair.
These are the sights and sounds we have been wanting for the past 15 months. It’s these shared snapshots that make our towns a community, what unites us as Americans.
Gov. Phil Murphy recently reflected it wasn’t a number that would signal the end of the pandemic but a return to normalcy. It’s a feeling more than anything else.
We still have some work to do until the pandemic is truly over. But the COVID-19 vaccine program has been a success by any measure. The uses of masks are dwindling—and it’s still more than fine if you choose to wear a mask—with the state’s vaccination rates among the best in the nation. According to health officials, the pandemic now only applies to those unvaccianted.
But our gut tells us we have turned a corner. “Isn’t it great to be out again?” is the phrase you hear often when you are next to a table where a large group of friends are having dinner, seeing work colleagues in person for the first time or just sitting on the porch as your neighbors from down the block walk by.
Have a happy and safe Summer, filled with laughter, family and friends as we get back to our rituals that fill our lives. Make sure you take time to soak in what and who are around you. It is something we should never take for granted again.