For families looking for fun events that are focused on Memorial Day, here are three very different venues that all pay homage to veterans and celebrate the weekend with patriotic flare.
Bring the family to the Armed Forces History Museum to learn what Memorial Day weekend is all about. The Family FunFest on Monday combines fun and learning. About 1,000 people attended last year, and as many are expected this year.
FunFest is geared to entertain all ages. It features discount admission of $10 and $5, rock wall climbing, bungee jumping, a bounce house, face painting, arts and crafts, military vehicle rides, military dress-up photo opportunities, food and music, said museum marketing director Cindy Bosselmann.
The event is a fundraiser for the museum's community outreach and youth education programs. The admission fee includes entrance to the museum and a lot happening at FunFest, but it doesn't cover every activity. For instance, a ride in a World War II M8 Greyhound reconnaissance vehicle costs $50 for three people.
Food available for purchase includes chicken fingers, fries, hot dogs, burgers, cotton candy, funnel cakes, churros, lemonade and soft drinks.
"World War II re-enactors from the 1st Infantry Division will be on hand to conduct drills and presentations, as well as interact with guests," Bosselmann said.
For those who are more into motorcycles and music but still want to pay respect to those who served, check out Oldsmar. The Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce sponsors the 5th Annual Freedom Fest and has the entire weekend covered with music, fun and patriotic activities.
Everything we do, we try to be certain it's family oriented so everyone can enjoy the festivities," said chamber president Jerry Custin.
Eight bands will play throughout the weekend, starting with Stormbringer and continuing through Radio Crime paired with Greg Billings on Sunday.
Last year, roughly 12,500 people attended. Many of the same activities are back this year, like the bike shows and a chicken wing-eating contest. A military memorial salute will take place Sunday morning.
A big tent provides seating in the shade, and there are plenty of oaks to help keep people cool.
Water ski show
For those who enjoy action on the water, look no further than Tower Lake in Oldsmar. Red, white and blue will shine as the Tampa Bay Water Ski Show Team performs a patriotic show Saturday in honor of Memorial Day.
"We are starting our entertainment at 5:30," said Vickie Wilmouth, publicity chair for the team. "We do a preshow with many of our newer skiers who are learning or developing acts on the water. It runs for about 20 minutes. We might have young boys learning how to single slalom or we might have a girls line learning ballet moves."
The regular show will run about 45 minutes and feature patriotic music. Come a bit early to find a bleacher seat or bring your own chair or blanket to sit on the grass.
"We acknowledge the veterans in the crowd at our show," said Wilmouth. "We do appreciate that we have a number of spectators who have served or are serving in the military. Last year we had a large and very responsive crowd."
Correspondent Theodora Aggeles can be reached at [email protected]