updated 9/23/2005 12:13:50 PM ET 2005-09-23T16:13:50

Your assignment: What makes summer special in your town? Whether it's a festival, parade or party that only happens where you live, submit your thoughts below, and most importantly, send us your photos and video to CJ@MSNBC.com.

Summer in the city
Manhattan, magical year round, is especially so in summer. Weekend food fairs, craft shows and performers busking are just a few of the smells sights and sounds that make this island unique in summertime. But, the summer portrait painted on the canvas of central park is the most magical of all. The sheep meadow is speckled with bathers angling for the sun. The meadow air and loam scented with the soleil of their glisten. Above them Frisbees fly through the air and into the hands of those too impatient to soak up the sun. In nearby Turtle Pond, painted turtles bake on the glacial rock surrounding the pond. Turn your head and they're gone. Telltale ripples on their name-sake pond being the only evidence of their presence. The skating rink, transformed into a summer amusement park, is overrun with children ... laughter ,cotton candy, merry-go-round motor sounds. The air above breaks with the vocalizations of some frustrated parent trying to keep up. In the recesses of the park summer lovers walk hand in hand ... stop and embrace and laugh nervously. The canvass that is Central Park is what makes summer so special in Manhattan.
--Bruce Greenfield, New York, N.Y.

Live statues
Racine, Wisconsin. I grew up and lived there for over 30 years. On the 4th of July, Racine has the largest parade in Wisconsin. Bands come from all over the country. But, we all wait for one short spot in the parade -- the live statues. These are veterans (mostly Vietnam and mostly Marine) who actually paint their skin, hair and uniforms, and look EXACTLY like the statues of The Raising of the Flag at Iwo Jima, Spirit of '76, Vietnam Memorial Statue, and Women in Military Service Memorial Statue. It stirs your heart and brings a tear to your eye. And emphasizes what incredible people our military members and veterans are!
--Dee M., West Allis, Wisconsin

Smiley Days
What could be a better slogan for the small town that I have lived in since the age of two, but "City with a Smile". Yes West Branch, Mich., celebrates "Smiley Days" in early July every year. A wonderful older gentleman started it all when the city decided it was time to repaint the town's water tower which is yellow with a black smiley face on it. The city was informed that there would be significant extra expense involved if they painting company had to paint the smiley back on, so the city decided not to pay for it. However, a wonderful gentleman by the name of Mr. Steinhauser decided that the smiley face water tower had to be saved and took it upon himself to raise money throughout the community to save "Smiley". And that he did. The residents of West Branch raised the money needed and even made a festival out of the entire ordeal. Now Smiley Days include a fly-in at the local airport, a ceremony at the water tower, an ice cream social in the park and much more. We even crown the resident with the best smile with the honor of Queen or King each year. Mr. Steinhauser, or "Mr. Smiley" as everyone remembers him, has since passed on, but the town will never forget him and his efforts to save the Smiley Water Tower that children here have been enjoying for decades.
--Jennifer Sheltrown, West Branch, Mich.

Crusin in Wisconsin
For a small town in the center of Wisconsin there is never a weekend that there is not something going on. From the Strawberry festival to Fall-o-rama every weekend is busy. I particularly like the Crusin' weekend. The custom cars remind me of my teen years. The warm summer nights with the then latest tunes, now the oldies, blasting on the radio out crusin' around checking out what was going on. You can't go back but the memories are sweet.
--Pat, Waupaca Wis.

Best kept secret
For the past three years I've called Milford, Conn. my home. This "small city with a big heart" as the city motto boasts truly comes alive as the mercury rises each year. The historic downtown section of this shoreline community is home to the annual Milford Oyster Festival, which is essentially the seafood festival to end all seafood festivals. The famed city green is essentially closed off to drivers while Milford's citizens take to the streets to enjoy every type of oyster-based delicacy you could imagine. Milford however is much more that just about the oysters, this town couldn't be better suited for twenty and thirty-somethings who pack the cafe's, bars, and clubs that line the winding streets of this colonial New England village turned mini-city with something to brag about. The arts community is hardly left out in the summertime as Milford's city green becomes home to the "Meet the Artist's and Artisan's festival", when artists and craftspeople from all over the region gather to show their skills. Milford is quickly becoming a local mecca for arts and culture. It may be a well-kept secret for now, but as this city continues to grow...I think the secret will be hard to keep!
--Brian Salerno, Milford, Conn.


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