MANATEE -- Everything from placing wreaths on veterans’ graves to patriotic speeches and parades are on tap for the observance of the Memorial Day holiday.
There will be a Manatee County Memorial Day ceremony at Veterans Park, north of Manatee Memorial Hospital 9 a.m. Monday, said Andy Huffman, Manatee County veterans service officer. Guest speaker will be Bradenton Vice Mayor Patrick Roff.
Manatee County Commissioner Larry Bustle will read a proclamation in honor of the day, according to Ken McCoy, chairman of the Manatee Veterans Council, a nonprofit organization comprised of 30 veterans groups throughout Manatee.
There will be a presentation of colors by the veterans service organizations, and Bradenton City Council member Marianne Barnebey will sing the national anthem, McCoy said.
A number of organizations and auxiliary groups will bring forward wreaths.
Parking is available both in hospital lots and at a parking lot just east of the memorial site. Military honors will be provided by the honor guard of VFW Palma Sola Post 10141.
“It is a time of the year we can memorialize the vets that have passed before us, and have given the ultimate sacrifice,” Huffman said.
Sunday, a traditional ceremony at Sarasota National Cemetery is slated for 1:30 p.m.
“It’s a program that’s going to honor our fallen heroes that are here and around the world, and primarily will focus locally on our cemetery,” said Wesley Jones, cemetery director.
The ceremony will feature the national anthem, posting of the colors, the Pledge of Allegiance and a presentation by the Gold Star Mothers, who have lost family members in combat, Jones said.
Because parking is limited, the cemetery has arranged a park-and-ride system, Jones said. Attendees may park at Twin Lakes Park, 6700 Clark Road. Starting at noon, buses will take them to and from the cemetery about four miles away, at 9810 S.R. 72.
“We will provide water, a nice tent that seats 500,” said Jones.
Also scheduled Sunday is a free “Tribute to Heroes” from 5 to 9 p.m. at Lakewood Ranch Main Street. A parade is set for 6 p.m.
“It’s not just a long weekend, for a vacation, but is a remembrance of the sacrifices troops made for us and our freedom,” said Gordon Wardell, president of the Lakewood Ranch Kiwanis Club.
Manasota Operation Troop Support will collect comfort items to send to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are also MOTS drop-off points at LWR Community Activities Summerfield Park Information Center, 6310 Lakewood Ranch Blvd.; Ed’s Tavern, 6310 10719 Rodeo Drive; Florida Bank, 3704 84th Ave. Circle E.; and Manasota Operation Troop Support, 4301 32nd St. W., Suite C-20, Bradenton.
Other Memorial Day events include:
n The Journey of Remembrance, an annual community service honoring U.S. military veterans and their families for their care and sacrifice, hosted by Tidewell Hospice, will be held from 2 to 3 p.m. today Thursdayat Manatee United Methodist Church, 315 15th St. E., Bradenton, and Unity Church of Sarasota Sanctuary, 3023 Proctor Road, Sarasota. The public is invited.
n Woodlands Village, independent and assisted living facility at 1055 301 Blvd. E., Bradenton, plans patriotic music, refreshments, and tours from 3 to 4 p.m. Friday; patriotic karaoke and refreshments 4 to 5 p.m. Saturday; patriotic tours and refreshments 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday (wear a patriotic costume and possibly win a prize); and a color guard presentation honoring veterans and their families at 11 a.m. Monday followed by a barbecue lunch at 12:30 p.m. RSVP at 758-9590.
n A day at Little Manatee River State Park from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday for 14 veterans hospital patients and two volunteers.
The group from the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa will have the opportunity to go horseback riding, canoeing and enjoy sandwiches, salads and cool drinks. Anyone interested in volunteering for the day, donating, or those who might just wish to see and thank these heroes, contact Kathy Wolfe at (941) 812-1980.
“It’s a personal way of saying thank you,” Wolfe said.
Sponsoring the program are Wolfe’s Born to Ride, PJ’s Sandwich Shop, Butterfield’s Restaurant, Beef O’Brady’s-Parrish and Canoe Outpost.
n The Sarasota Patriotic Observance Committee plans a Memorial Day parade and ceremony 10 a.m. Monday, at Main Street and Osprey Avenue, Sarasota.
The route will be west along Main Street to Chaplain J.D. Hamel Park on Gulfstream Avenue.
The ceremony at Hamel Park will begin immediately after the parade. Parking is available at Marina Jack’s on the Sarasota Bayfront. Janet Hamel Solomon, the daughter of J.D. Hamel, will be the guest speaker.