Now that summer has officially begun, it’s a busy time of year for a lot of people in the Riverbend community.

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If you attended the F1 powerboat races or the Mississippi River Festival last weekend, you saw firsthand how so many people enjoyed Alton’s offerings. But there’s a lot more going on throughout the region this summer, and we have so much to look forward to every week. Just in the past few days, I found myself in St. Louis and Alton enjoying relaxed summer nights with my friends and family.

Last week, my family and I went to the Muny in Forest Park, an outdoor theater in St. Louis where they put on Broadway musicals for audiences of thousands. I’ve been going to the Muny since I was a little kid, and now in my 20s, I’m just as ecstatic as ever when I have the chance to attend.

The Muny, miraculously, offers nearly 1,500 free seats to every show. Whether you buy tickets or take advantage of the free seats, it’s a great production every time. We watched “Les Miserables.” And let me tell you, I cried. That show always gets me. There’s nothing like weeping quietly in the middle of St. Louis on a hot June night.

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Back in Alton, my friends and I walked around the Night Market and enjoyed the fresh air in the pocket park between Jacoby Arts Center and Germania. We viewed dozens of vendor tents and chatted with people as a great band played. It was a beautiful night to be outside and a great time to shop and chat with our fellow Alton neighbors.

On Saturday morning, my family and I walked around the farmers market. Fresh veggies, fruits, honey, jams and plenty of craft vendors filled the market. We bought our groceries and had a pleasant time together, despite the heat.

My point is, there are a lot of great things going on right in our backyard. Especially as the summer kicks in, there are so many opportunities to get outside and spend time with our community members and loved ones.

It’s easy to escape into the air conditioning. But I’m making a point to get out this summer and enjoy the weather and the company. I’m also taking the time to check out the offerings in my own neighborhood. Right here in Alton, Edwardsville, St. Louis and the surrounding areas, we have a plethora of amazing activities happening almost every night.

Especially this week. As Fourth of July approaches, I’ve got my eye on the Independence Day Celebrations and Fireworks in the Riverbend Region calendar that publishes every year. There are so many things to do and so many opportunities to experience great hometown Independence Day celebrations.

What do you have planned for the summer? I’m looking to fill the next two months up with activities. All suggestions are appreciated; bonus points if it’s within the Riverbend region. I want to show some love for my home, and it’s easy to do when there are so many wonderful things to highlight.

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