This summer enjoy a concert or a pubic deejay that gets you to move. Photo credit: Orimi Photography

Summertime, and the living is . . . better

Kicking off Ark Republic’s “Meet Me Outside” summer theme, cabin fever reached a fever pitch, now we’re curing it with a summer of travel, activities and fun. But, know before you go.

Summer’s here, what are you plans?  More than half of American adults have been inoculated with the one or two-dose COVID-19 vaccine. The time is right for finally going out and enjoying all of the activities the season has to offer.

Most states have reopened in time for outdoor gatherings, indoor parties and hanging out. But some states still require mask wearing and social distancing. Although COVID-related restrictions remain in some states, people are eager to take advantage of the warmer weather and travel. Online searches for information about rental cars, flights and cruise ships are increasing. States’ and cities’ websites, and travel guides, offer detailed information about what travelers can and can’t do.

According to Fordor’s Travel, states still have different requirements in how we socialize. In Florida, everything is open – hotels, restaurants, bars, beaches, retail stores, and parks. But in Hawaii, restaurants and bars require safe practices and social distancing.

There are also some restrictions for using its beaches. New Jersey is open but requires visitors from states with a growing number of COVID-19 cases to self-quarantine for 14 days. New Mexico’s restaurants and bars are only open for takeout and delivery. Its hotels and retail stores are open at 25 percent capacity.

Nature lovers who like roughing it in tents will be pleased to know that most states’ parks and forests are available again for camping.  

Children who are out of school for the summer can visit some of their favorite theme parks again, including Disneyworld and Universal in Orlando, Florida and Disneyland in Anaheim, California.

Theaters, performance centers and festivals

Theaters are opening back up, as well as, people are restoring innovative outdoor screenings. Photo credit: Derek Sutton

Movie theaters are back, and just in time for the summer blockbuster films. But they are still taking precautions due to the pandemic. AMC theaters are not requiring viewers who have been vaccinated to wear masks. The AMC company is following the CDC guidelines, and those in the cities and states where its theaters are located. Seating capacity depends on the safety requirements of the cities and states. AMC will continue its socially distanced seating.

In its theaters which have reserved seating, customers will be asked to select seats that are not close to others. Viewers will be asked to stand so many feet apart to social distance if they must stand in any lines. Hand sanitizers and sanitizing wipes will be available for customers who want to use them. AMC cleans its theaters using specific products and procedures. The other film theater companies, Regal and Cinemark, have also lifted mandatory masking for vaccinated customers. Regal theaters ended social distancing.  Whether theaters’ concession stands are open depends on the theaters. Regal has an app which customer can use to order their theater food.

Performing arts this summer will vary across the country, with some artists still using virtual platforms instead of appearing in concerts before live audiences. Washington. D.C.’s Kennedy Center will fully open in September to celebrate its 50th anniversary. During the summer it will feature outdoor performances in jazz, ballet, and dance, along with children’s activities and events. The always highly anticipated annual Filmfest DC, which has showcased international feature films and documentaries for 35 years in venues around the city, is virtual this year.

Summer fêtes, holidays and celebrations

Pride month and other holidays in June should get you out. Photo credit: Hugo Herrera

June, the first month of summer, will be full of activities linked to national observances of Pride Month, African American Music Appreciation Month, and Juneteenth. Pride Month is a celebration of LGBTQ people in the U.S. It’s held in June to commemorate the “Stonewall Uprising” on June 28, 1969, when LGBTQ customers in New York City’s Stonewall Inn fought police who raided the establishment. From then on, LGBTQ people asserted their right to social and political equality.

Parades are usually held in cities with large LGBTQ communities, but few will be held this year due to the pandemic. New York City’s parade, the largest in the U.S., will be virtual this year. Pride organizations in other cities will hold outdoor movie nights, concerts, and panel discussions among other events.

African American Music Appreciation Month was the brainchild of Philadelphia International Records owners and songwriters Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. They were inspired by the Country Music Association’s efforts to promote the country music genre and decided that Black music and artists should also be promoted, celebrated, and honored. In September 1978, Gamble, Huff and Ed Wright, then head of the National Association of TV and Radio Announcers, formed the Black Music Association, which created Black Music Month.

President Jimmy Carter held the first White House celebration of Black Music Month in 1979, but Black Music Month wasn’t formally recognized until 2000. In 2009, President Barack Obama renamed it African American Music Appreciation Month. Congress passed legislation formally recognizing the observance. Radio stations around the country promote African American Music Appreciation Month by highlighting the music of Black artists in jazz, blues, and other musical forms. Special concerts featuring Black artists are often held.

Juneteenth commemorates the date of June 19,1865, when Union Army Major General Gordon Granger traveled to Galveston, Texas to inform the enslaved Black people that the Civil War was over and so was their enslavement.  Today Juneteenth is celebrated as the end of enslavement for Black people throughout the U.S. Forty-eight states and Washington, D.C. recognize Juneteenth, but not as a paid holiday. New York and Virginia observe Juneteenth as a paid holiday. The Juneteenth Foundation, based in Washington, D.C., was organized to campaign for making Juneteenth a federal holiday.  This year on June 18 and 19, the foundation will sponsor virtual panel discussions, an in-person reception, a virtual career panel and fair, and a concert.  Many cities and states are planning their own Juneteenth activities.

There is a lot to do this summer. Get out of the house and participate, but safely.

Margaret Summers has worked as a print and radio news reporter and a media relations professional. She lives in Washington, D.C.

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