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Summer fun close to home

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Summer revelers often take to the skies, rails and waves to embark on a vacation adventure. With the kids out of school and relaxed hours at the workplace, individuals and families generally find that summer is the ideal time to plan a getaway. For those who find they don’t have the funds this year, or simply prefer to stay closer to home, there are likely many different local events to enjoy instead.

Many people will be making this summer the year of the staycation. With the average price of gasoline hovering around the $4 mark, according to the AAA Auto Group, you may be among the individuals planning to keep vacation and weekend activities limited to a certain radius around your house. What many people seldom realize is that the warm-weather season is a prime time for local offerings from different organizations in the community — many of which are low-cost and nearby.

Oftentimes, all it takes is thumbing through the “Where to Go” section of the newspaper to find a host of different community offerings happening in the weeks to come. Chances are your neighborhood is hosting one or more of these different types of community events.

* Fireworks display: Whether for Independence Day or just to mark the start of a summer weekend, towns often host vibrant fireworks displays. Coastal towns may have them at the beach or boardwalk area, while inland areas may have a specific field or town center location where they can be observed.

* Carnival: You need not travel to the theme park several miles away to enjoy a bit of chills and thrills. There may be one or several carnivals taking place nearby this year. Many churches host a carnival to raise funds. There also may be county fairs that feature their share of thrill rides and carnival test-of-skill games. Of course, the carnival food that goes with the event is also something to look forward to.

* Park activities: From hiking excursions to garden tours, the private or government-subsidized parks may issue an events schedule with many different activities. Some have theater under the stars or camp-out movie nights. Others may have wine- and cheese-tasting soirees. These parks may have exhibition centers that can be visited any time of the year.

* Summer camps: Many childcare centers and other organizations offer summer camp programs. Research this option early on so you can ensure a place for your child should you choose to sign up.

* Food festivals:Towns often host different food festivals where local vendors can put their wares on display and happy residents can sample to their hearts’ delight.

* Concerts: The summer season is certainly one for concerts. If you don’t happen to live right near a sports arena or another music venue, you may be able to enjoy local bands at clubs and restaurants. Some towns also have a performance stage where they invite performers to play week after week. Who knows, your favorite musician may show up for an acoustic or intimate performance night.

* Breakfasts and brunches: Different organizations host fundraising food events. The entire family can eat out at a fraction of the cost of going to a restaurant and benefit a good cause in the process.

* Street fairs and block parties: Part of the fun of summer is getting outdoors and socializing in the community. Street fairs with foods on a stick and even neighborhood-based block parties enable you to get together and enjoy a little fun really close to home.

* Tours and parades: Although parades often coincide with major holidays, some towns host carnival-type parades for the community. Children may be able to ride on a fire truck or explore the workings of a police cruiser.

There are plenty of enjoyable activities that could be taking place right in your own backyard this summer. Consult the newspaper, online bulletins or a community newsletter to keep abreast of the different events that may be coming your way.