While standing in the bank recently, I noticed a young woman with a child of about 6 or 7 years old standing nearby. The young boy was grinning wildly and staring at the teller who was helping me. She was likewise smiling at him and she told him she’d come out to the lobby and see him when she was done.

While she sorted out my deposits, this young boy was wriggling and dancing with excitement. As I exited the bank, I turned back to see that’d she left her post and entered the lobby. I saw her bend down and scoop the boy up, lifting him off the floor and hugging him tightly and the look on both of their faces made me look again.

Hugs are happening again. People are hugging those they haven’t seen in person or without a mask or from closer than 6 feet for over a year. What a joy to collect these long overdue hugs, one in Mehuron’s, one by the post office, one by Bisbee’s, one in my office and more.  

How amazing is it to see people standing around in small groups of twos and threes in front of the post office or outside The Warren Store? How nice it is the see everyone’s face again.

More opportunities for seeing those we’ve missed throughout the pandemic are coming. Round Up on the River returns to the Bridge Street Marketplace next week, offering us regular Wednesday opportunities for hugging friends, enjoying music and good food.

The Warren Fourth of July parade and street dance return after the first-ever hiatus on Sunday.  Having The Valley’s biggest annual event – the Warren Fourth of July celebration - canceled due to the pandemic last year was painful, but necessary. Having it return this year, thanks to high vaccination rates (82.1% of eligible people have started the process as The Valley Reporter goes to press) and currently low COVID case rates are cause for celebration (and common sense).

The science says it’s safe to hug people, to reconnect and to gather together again.

Happy Fourth of July! Enjoy the parade and the hugs.