It’s like waking up from a long, dreadful nightmare.

One that goes by the name of COVID-19.

We are by no means finished with dealing with this soul-stealing scourge but things, at long last, are looking up. Vaccines are working. Mandates are loosening (but some are still there). Customers are returning to bars, restaurants, businesses, stadiums with gusto (and some common-sense precautions). Gatherings with loved ones are almost back to normal.

One of the best parts of this comeback from COVID are the events, the “glue” that holds communities together and builds proud traditions.

In the past couple of months, the Alexandria City Council has issued permits for a variety of special events:

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  • The Red Willow Arts Coalition Summer Concert series will take place on Thursday evenings beginning on May 27 through Sept. 2 from 7 to 9 p.m. on the Douglas County Courthouse lawn.

  • A scaled-down version of the Alexandria Jaycees “Ole Oppe Fest” is set for this weekend, May 28-29, at Big Ole Central Park. The celebration will include free music, starting at 7 p.m. this Friday with 57 Chevy. Cimarron will play on Saturday, also starting at 7 p.m. The Jaycees hope to put up a tent and sell water and pop. The public is asked to bring a chair or blanket to sit on. There will also be prize drawings for gift certificates.

  • West Central United Basketball’s “Battle on the Blacktop” will take place June 5-6 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Matt Kjelland Memorial Courts. Another basketball tourney, “Big Ole Hoops 3 on 3” is set to go on the courts the following weekend, June 12 and possibly June 13, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

  • The Legacy of the Lakes Museum for its annual "Music in the Gardens" event on Aug. 6.

  • The Viking Speedway 56th season began earlier this month and includes 20 racing dates.

  • The Vikingland Band Festival Parade is a go for Sunday, June 27 and runs from 1:30 to 5 p.m. on Broadway, featuring 18 bands and the Alexandria Area High School as host band.

And that’s just the start. Many other fun events are in the hopper: An open house fly-in at the Alexandria Airport on June 5; the Vintage Car Club of Alexandria “Show and Shine” – the 50th annual – at the Douglas County Fairgrounds on June 27; the Douglas County Sheriff’s Posse and Federal Country Music Spectacular, featuring Adam Doleac later this fall; the Legacy of the Lakes Classic Boat Show at Arrowwood July 9-10; and others.

Organizers of many summer festivals throughout the county are also looking forward to offering the popular traditions once again.

It is so liberating to not have to add “canceled because of COVID” to all of our stories about summertime events.

Slowly but surely, the Douglas County community is shaking off the COVID doldrums and getting back to those pre-pandemic times that we all took for granted. Let’s have a summer to renew relationships, appreciate one another a little more and attend and support the events that make our community unique.