For some, Memorial Day is a marker that typically marks the start of the summer vacation season. Yay, the pools are open. For others it's just another day off from work. But then there are many that remember the true meaning behind Memorial Day.
Formerly known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day originated after the Civil War to commemorate the fallen soldiers. By the 20th century Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died in all wars.
Stop by one of these fun-filled Memorial Day celebrations this weekend, but keep in mind those that made freedom a commonality rather than a rarity:
St. Louis Bluesweek Festival: Soldier's Memorial will host a new event this Memorial Day weekend. The Bluesweek Festival offers three days of blues music, food and cold beer. Admission to the festival is free. Soldier's Memorial is located at Market and Tucker Streets in Downtown St. Louis. May 25-27
: The Compton Heights Concert Band has been performing free concerts in St. Louis since 1976. The band's summer season kicks off every year with a Memorial Day Concert in Tower Grove Park in south St. Louis. Everyone is invited to bring a blanket or lawn chair and gather round the bandstand on May 28 at 3 p.m.
Eckert's Memorial Day Festival: Eckert's Orchards in Belleville is celebrating Memorial Day with a three-day festival complete with music, food, wagon rides and special kid's activities. The festival runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
: The service will begin at 2 p.m. May 27 at St. Charles Memorial Gardens, 3950 West Clay St. The service will feature participation from St. Charles County veterans organizations that will lead a Parade of Colors, prayers and songs in remembrance of fallen heroes. The ceremony also will feature the After Hours Community Band, lighting of the seven-day candle flame, a rifle salute and taps. More than 500 veterans' names will be read aloud and poppies will be placed on a wreath in their honor.
Gypsy Caravan: The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra is partnering with the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL) for the 39th annual Gypsy Caravan. About 400 vendors from across the county will be setting up shop in the UMSL parking lot to move antiques, jewelry, furniture, clothing, trinkets and much more. The event will be held on May 28 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with entry costing $5 a person to support the orchestra and its education and community programs.
Park It: Every Hazelwood park has a grill and lots of fun ways for the children to play. Pick one whether a smaller scene like , a mid-size like or one of the larger ones like or park and get to grilling and chilling with family and friends.
: The Memorial Day Parade in Alton, Illinois, is truly a part of history. It is the oldest consecutive running Memorial Day parade in the nation, dating back to 1868. The parade honors American veterans and celebrates the history of the small Mississippi River town. It begins each Memorial Day at 10 a.m. at the intersection of College and Washington Avenues.
Spring to Dance Festival 2011: The University of Missouri St. Louis Touhill Performing Arts Center will be celebrating Memorial Day weekend by hosting the 4th annual Emerson Spring to Dance Festival. Dance companies from across the Midwest will be showcasing their own blend of cutting edge and classic from the evening of May 24 through May 26. For $10 a ticket, you can witness intense footwork of famous nationwide troupes. There’s a new program each night, so go all three nights for three completely different experiences.
Stay at Home: This is a three-day weekend and for the 9-to-5 worker it a rarity. Enjoy your home or stop by some family members and grab some grub. Let this be a relaxing stress free mini-vacay. Appreciate the freedom to nothing that we all share as Americans and remember those who fought so you could have it.
: is a community carnival organized by volunteers in University City, Missouri. The goal of organizers is to bring people to Heman Park to welcome the arrival of summer by having a good time together. May 25-28
Enjoy, and Happy Memorial Day!