Staying home or on road, Manatee prepares for Memorial Day fun

rdymond@bradenton.comMay 25, 2013 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Honoring the heroes while supporting those military on active duty are the themes that tie together the parade and festivities at downtown Lakewood Ranch at 5 p.m. Sunday.

This year's grand marshal of the Tribute to Heroes Parade is resident Bob Delaney, a 20-plus year veteran National Basketball Association referee who also had a 14-year law enforcement career.

A truck will be on hand to accept donations of toiletry and nonperishable food items for Manasota Operation Troops Support. The items will be placed in packages and sent overseas to military personnel.

Letters will be placed in each packet to create a personal message of thanks, a note of appreciation, and a meaningful token, that our heroes are in our thoughts and admired for their sacrifice for freedom. "These letters are shared and treasured by our troops, a small and much appreciated reminder of home," according to Lori Basilone, director of Lakewood Ranch community activities.

Stable gasoline prices and rising airline fares will mean that many Manatee County residents will be traveling by car and taking longer trips this Memorial Day weekend, according to AAA Travel.

But those who choose to remain home for the holiday will enjoy three days of exquisite weather from Parrish to southern Sarasota County for picnics, the beach, Memorial Day parades and salutes, and shopping, according to a forecaster with the National Weather Service.

Residents and tourists who are in Manatee for the holiday can find plenty to do, said Debbie Meihls, executive manager of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The Manatee County Veterans' Council will hold a memorial ceremony beginning at 9 a.m. Monday at the Veterans Monument across from the skate park at the Riverwalk.

Other happenings over the weekend include a chicken picnic along the Riverwalk, and Mixon Fruit Farms will host an antique and art fair. "The ArtCenter of Manatee has an art sale and gallery and the South Florida Museum is doing 'Little Shop of Horrors,'" Meihls said.

The Ellenton Premium Outlet Mall is having a Memorial Day sale, and a pig roast is planned at Pier 22 restaurant, she added.

Air travel is down by 9.2 percent in Florida so far this year, Jenkins added.

Those who stay home can expect clear blue skies and warmth, but not too moist air.

Saturday and Sunday will not only have close to a zero chance of rain, but they will feature low humidity. levels at a dry 35 to 40 percent, said Richard Rude, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Ruskin.

Saturday and Sunday will feature low temperatures around 60 inland and mid-60s in coastal areas and highs of upper 80s near the coast and lower 90s inland, Rude said.

Monday, Memorial Day, will be partly cloudy but no rain is anticipated, Rude added.

Monday will feature highs in the upper 80s on the coast and 90 inland with slightly higher humidity levels, Rude said.

Interestingly, Tuesday through Friday are forecast to have a slight chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon.

Could next week be the start of the rainy summer season?

"We don't really have an exact date but it could be," Rude said.

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