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The biggest, busiest week of the summer is upon us! Racine County welcomes Ironman 70.3 athletes, hot air balloons, a Downtown party and new, live theater. That’s just for starters. Check out these suggestions from Real Racine.

The Ironman returns. Some will participate and many more will watch as a record 2,670 entrants from 46 states and 13 countries compete in the Ironman 70.3 Racine triathlon on Sunday. Starting at 7 a.m., these athletes will take a 1.2-mile swim in Lake Michigan, followed by a 56-mile bicycle ride through the county and a 13.1-mile run along the lakeshore. North Beach is the transition point between events and also the finish line site. Everyone is invited to cheer on the athletes all along the course. Be aware of temporary road closures and lane restrictions during the day. Follow the athletes online at www.ironmanracine.com

Fun on Friday. All the fun of a First Friday is also on the Third Friday this month. Head to Downtown Racine from 4 to 9 p.m. Friday for shop and gallery open houses, food/drink specials and live entertainment. The Twang Dragons will perform at Monument Square starting at 6 p.m. visit www.firstfridaysracine.com At the Racine Art Museum (RAM), 441 Main St., Anja Notaja Sieger, a performance typist, will create letters, called “prosettes” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. She’ll also represent RAM on Monument Square from 5 to 8 p.m. Visit www.ramart.org

Up and away in Waterford. Get ready for one of the summer’s most colorful events – the 4th Annual Waterford Hot Air Balloonfest! This family-oriented event fills the skies from the grounds of Evergreen Elementary School, 817 W. Main St. Visitors are invited to meet the pilots, see the launches and take a helicopter ride. The festival includes a craft fair, music and kids activities. The scheduled “evening glows” are spectacular. Bring your camera! Admission is free. Parking is $5 per car at Evergreen Elementary, Fox River Middle School, and Woodfield Elementary schools. It all starts at 4 p.m. Friday and runs through early Sunday morning. New this year is the Morning Launch 5k at 8 a.m. Saturday to benefit the Vince Lombardi Cancer Center plus a photo contest, kite flying and a memorial helium balloon release. The full event schedule at is www.waterford-wi.org

Curtain up for “Putnam County.” The Racine Theatre Guild presents a musical comedy about six nerdy, adolescent overachievers who face off in the spelling championship of a lifetime. “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Theatre Guild stage, 2519 Northwestern Ave. This Tony Award-winning show will be presented for a limited run of just two weekends. For tickets and showtimes, call 262-633-4218 or visit www.racinetheatre.org

Marching orders. The Racine area’s proud tradition of drum and bugle corps excellence continues this weeked. The Lighthouse Brigade of Racine Band Championships get under way at 7 p.m. Friday at Case High School’s Hammes Field, 7345 Washington Ave., Mount Pleasant. Racine’s Junior and Senior Lighthouse Brigades will be joined by five marching bands from throughout the Midwest performing in field show competition. Tickets at the gate are $10 for adults and $8 for seniors and students. Kids ages 5 and younger get in free.

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Paul Holley is retired from careers in journalism, public relations and marketing but not from life. These days, he pretty much writes about what he feels like writing. You may contact him directly at:...