So much is happening on Memorial Day in north Pinellas County that Clearwater veterans have moved their annual ceremony to Sunday evening to beat the rush.
"There are so many events on Memorial Day itself, we just decided to beat the crowd," said Shelly Bauer of the Clearwater Veterans Alliance. "We're still going to do a full-blown Memorial Day presentation."
Then on Monday, Oldsmar will dedicate a memorial bench at its veterans park for Army Cpl. Frank R. Gross, a local 25-year-old who was killed last year in Afghanistan. And Curlew Hills Memory Gardens in Palm Harbor will hear from an Iraq War veteran who was inside the World Trade Center when the towers collapsed on 9/11.
Here's a roundup of local Memorial Day events. All are free and open to the public. Unless otherwise noted, all are on Monday.
Clearwater: The Veterans Alliance will hold a sunset parade and ceremony beginning at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Crest Lake Park, along Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard near S Highland Avenue. Following the ceremony, at about 8:30 p.m. in the park, there will be a showing of the movie Taking Chance, starring Kevin Bacon as a U.S. Marine who escorts the body of a fellow Marine to his funeral.
"It's a totally free event in a family-friendly environment," Bauer said. "People can bring their own lawn chairs and picnic supplies, and we'll have concessions out there as well."
Dunedin: The public is invited to the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd at 11 a.m. Monday to hear a guest speaker, retired Air Force Lt. Col. William C. Lewis. The event will also include the Sea Cadets Color Guard and pipers and drummers from Dunedin Middle School. A light lunch will be served at the church, 639 Edgewater Drive.
Largo: Largo will hold a ceremony at 7 p.m. Monday at Largo Central Park's Military Court of Honor, 101 Central Park Drive. One of the speakers will be U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Rocks Beach.
Oldsmar: Army Cpl. Frank R. Gross, known to his friends as "Frankie," was killed last July by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan's Khost province. At a 10 a.m. ceremony Monday, his hometown of Oldsmar will dedicate a memorial bench in his name at Veterans Memorial Park, 250 Shore Drive E. His parents, Craig and Antonia Gross, will be in attendance. Retired congressman Mike Bilirakis will speak, among others.
The city is also holding its weekend Freedom Fest in downtown Oldsmar with live music, vendors and a kids zone. Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. today, then 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Palm Harbor: Curlew Hills Memory Gardens will hold its annual ceremony beginning at 9:30 a.m. Monday at the 30-acre cemetery at 1750 Curlew Road.
"There will be no political speeches. We want to focus more on the purpose of the Memorial Day observance," said Curlew Hills president Keenan Knopke.
Speakers will include retired Army Capt. Gregory Amira of Trinity. On Sept. 11, 2001, he was working on the 44th floor of World Trade Center Tower 2 when the towers were hit. He was buried in rubble. Later, as an Army reservist, he was wounded by a roadside bomb in Iraq.
Seminole: One of the largest local observances takes place at 10 a.m. Monday at Bay Pines National Cemetery, 10000 Bay Pines Blvd. More than 3,000 people are expected to attend. Congressman Young also will speak at this event.
Tarpon Springs: There will be two services. The first is at 10 a.m. Sunday at Cycadia Cemetery, 1005 E Tarpon Ave., put together by American Legion Post 46. The second is at 11 a.m. Monday at the Veterans Monument in Craig Park, 100 Beekman Lane.
Mike Brassfield can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4151. Send letters to the editor at tampabay.com/letters.