Memorial Day weekend starts Saturday, marking the first three-day weekend for many Floridians since the first coronavirus cases were reported in the state.
As of Friday, nearly 2,300 people have died of COVID-19 in Florida, which has reported nearly 50,000 cases since March. Shortly after the state released its figures, Gov. Ron DeSantis said youth activities can resume. Already, the statewide reopening plan had allowed people back into gyms, hair salons, restaurants and more as counties like Pinellas reopened beaches with new protocols.
Meanwhile, people have split opinions on topics like mandatory face masks and eating inside restaurants. Ask residents about their plans for Memorial Day weekend, like we did on social media this week, and they’re similarly divided.
Several readers told us they’re remembering fallen service members, the reason for the day. But many said their long weekend doesn’t involve going out to do so.
“Grilling and homemade mojitos at home. Good enough for me,” said Tampa Bay resident Rosario Rivera on Facebook.
Mechelle Rene of Clearwater added on Twitter: “Backyard projects and beers at home.”
On our Instagram Story, most responses had two words in common: Stay(ing) home.
But at her place, Holiday’s Jessica Alexander won’t just be observing Memorial Day.
“Pig roast. Bounce house. Water slide. Cotton candy machine. Son’s birthday party at my home,” Alexander wrote in a Facebook comment.
And neither will Frank Gregoire and Fran Strayhorn of St. Petersburg, although their celebration means travel.
“We’re headed to Indianapolis Motor Speedway to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary,” Gregoire said on Facebook. “We were married in #turn3 on May 30, 2010, just before the race.”
Many folks cited or alluded to the ongoing pandemic.
“Still staying inside,” Delia Cummings of Lakeland tweeted. “The virus is still killing people and our age and my husband’s medical conditions plus Floridians refusal to social distance and wear masks keeps us locked inside.”
Also on Twitter, St. Petersburg’s Sean Quinn put it simply: “Pool, grilling and fishing in spots where there isn’t anyone else around me.”
While holidays are meant to bring people together, some people have come to terms with the fact that normal is far off.
“Spending it with my husband at home,” wrote Marla Collins on Facebook. “This will be a very different kind of summer for us! Usually we spend the holidays with friends, but not this year.”
Others said they’re hitting the sand or water. Some dreamed of it but are holding back.
“Honestly avoiding the beach. Already know it’s going to be packed,” wrote Katie Sullivan of St. Petersburg on Instagram.
Those lucky enough to have watercraft say they plan to use it: “Going out on my son’s boat in Sarasota!” wrote Marsha Powers of Brooksville on Facebook.
And then there were those with more unconventional Memorial Day plans.
“I’ll be hosting a beach-viewing Zoom call. I’ve got my cousin Jerry down in Clearwater with a GoPro in a bubble suit. He’ll go wherever we want him to,” @iamtonygeers replied on Twitter.
“Back on the rowing machine where I left off 70 days ago. And low carb diet,” St. Petersburg’s Gary Harrington tweeted.
“Watching the new miniseries about (Ulysses S.) Grant on the History Channel,” Melissa Leonard of Tampa said on Facebook. “Yeah. I’m a nerd.”