Memorial Day 101

Health, Home & Family
on April 18, 2012

Memorial Day first was observed May 30, 1868, in remembrance of both Union and Confederate soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Congress made it an official U.S. federal holiday in 1971. On Memorial Day, it’s important to remember the men and women who have sacrificed themselves for our freedom and our country. It’s also an opportunity for families and friends to spend a long weekend with each other. Kick off the summer and keep all ages happy with a variety of Memorial Day weekend activities.

Beach day. Many city beaches open for summer season on Memorial Day weekend. If you are not afraid of crowds, pack up the kids and hit the beach for sun and fun. A day at the beach may be a good choice if you are attempting to entertain kids of varying ages. Little ones will love building in the sand, while older kids can play supervised in the surf. Remember never to leave any child, any age, unsupervised at a beach area.

Water parks. Like the beaches, many water parks and city pools open on Memorial Day weekend. Some water parks may not be as toddler-friendly as others, so be sure to check the park’s online site or call to see if it has enough activities to keep younger ones happy. Also, pack enough sunscreen and supervise all kids closely at both water parks and pools. The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions offers a safety checklist for all visitors to water parks. Check it out before diving into water park fun with the family.

Amusement parks. You may choose to make Memorial Day weekend a time for a mini-vacation. Larger amusement parks often offer package deals, which include hotel accommodations plus tickets into their park. Some venues even have a water park attached. When choosing an amusement park, opt for ones featuring rides and attractions for all ages, including special areas for toddlers and younger kids.

Hiking. Spend time enjoying the outdoors together by venturing out on a family hike. State and even national park fees may cost less than tickets to other venues or activities. has a list of fees, hours of operation, national park locations and more. State parks also offer miles of trails for both beginners and experienced hikers as well. When hiking anywhere, always keep kids close, dress appropriately, bring water bottles and follow all safety precautions.

Backyard barbecue. Keeping the family close at and home during Memorial Day weekend can have its benefits, too. Consider throwing a backyard barbecue with great food, music and games for all ages. Set up beanbag toss games and get out the Frisbees, soccer balls and any other outdoor games that may be lurking in your garage or shed. Set up an area for bubble blowing for younger kids, and if there is concrete space, consider a sidewalk chalk art contest. Hot day? Have a water balloon toss!