Staying home or on road, Manatee prepares for Memorial Day

rdymond@bradenton.comMay 25, 2013 

MANATEE -- 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.

In addition to the laying of memorial wreaths, Manatee County Commissioner Larry Bustle will issue a proclamation; guest speakers will include Gary Tibbetts, special assistant to U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan and retired Army Lt. Gen. Jerome Hilmes.

Robin Fernandez will sing the national anthem, "America" and "God Bless America."

The color guard will be provided by VFW Post 10141.

Lakewood Ranch hosts its annual Tribute to Heroes Parade starting at 5 p.m. Sunday on Main Street. This year's grand marshal of the 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.

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

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.

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.

Although AAA doesn't break down Memorial Day travel statistics by region, the association is predicting 1.6 million Floridians, a slight increase over 2012, will be traveling this weekend by car or plane, said Mark Jenkins, the Tampa-based spokesman for AAA.

Jenkins believes that gasoline prices slightly less than last Memorial Day's average of $3.66 per gallon will give Manatee residents the urge to hit the road rather than the sky.

"Air fares are up 10 percent compared to this time last year," Jenkins said. "So people are choosing to drive."

Saturday and Sunday will not only have close to a zero chance of rain, but they will feature 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.

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

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