Welcome, 2021!

Honestly, is there anyone among us who didn’t breathe a tiny sigh of relief upon turning the calendar to a new year? 2020 was definitely a year for the record books, and we all know the reasons why.

Personally, I didn’t mind saying goodbye to 2019 or 2020. Both years had their share of personal trials for me, though we can always find bright spots, right? A highlight of a challenging 2019 will always be the birth of our first granddaughter, who continues to bring us such joy and happiness.

This year, we look forward to our oldest daughter’s wedding, with fingers crossed that it’s late enough in the year for a very large group to gather safely.

I think it’s safe to say we’re all ready for a sense of “normalcy.” I was overjoyed a few weeks ago when an East Coast snowstorm led the news - it just seemed so “normal” and welcome.

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We’re all ready for more “happy” news, too. In the past week, I received comments from two people on a story I wrote, both liking the story’s “positive” vibe.

“I wish that this type of news was reported on more,” one person wrote. “I am tired of all the politics, crimes and frustrations of life. Keep up the happy news reporting.”

Another said in a voicemail: “It’s nice to read something good … instead of all this horrible stuff.”

We’re now six days into 2021, and we all want to read and hear about the good in life. So let’s take a look at some of the positive, fun activities going on in the northern lakes area, and give kudos to those planning these events to give us something to look forward to and a way to find some enjoyment - yes, even in winter.

Our chambers of commerce in Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Crosslake and Pine River - as well as other groups and organizations - are moving full steam ahead in planning all those fun activities we missed out on last year.

The Nisswa Chamber president just shared that her office is working to coordinate summer Turtle Races and the Fall Festival. She’s heard word that plans are in the works for the Winter Jubilee filled with outdoor fun in mid-February.

The Crosslake Chamber director shared that plans for WinterFest in early February are on track, and though it likely won’t include the annual SoupFest, kite flying is a new offering being pursued along with many other outdoor events.

And plans are being made for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade & Celebration in March in Crosslake. That was the first event canceled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Props to the Brainerd Jaycees, who are going ahead with their annual Ice Fishing Extravaganza in a virtual format. It’s not what many want, but it’ll be a fun, safe event where people can fish on any lake in the state and from the warmth of a fish house. And most important, this event benefits area charities.

Happy Dancing Turtle in Pine River also is going virtual with a popular annual event - Back to Basics - in February, featuring keynote presentations and workshops.

We know we won’t see “normal” at the start of 2021. But we have to applaud those groups adapting and planning myriad activities and not just outright canceling them. That same sentiment applies to groups that hosted events in 2020, just in a different format than what we previously knew.

People are smart. They’re creative. And life does go on. That’s a definite takeaway for me as I venture into 2021.

Nancy Vogt may be reached at 218-855-5877 or nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.