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On Memorial Day weekend, Myrtle Beach shows its true colors — red, white and blue. As the highlight to the city's monthlong Military Appreciation Days, Myrtle Beach plays host to the Memorial Day Parade and Big Family Picnic on Saturday, May 28, followed by a full weekend of festivities to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the U.S. military.
The three-day weekend begins in traditional Memorial Day fashion, with a parade that features military vehicles and equipment, veterans and active-duty troops, and floats presented by various local businesses and civic groups. This year, the parade route is being relocated from Ocean Boulevard to the more fitting and spacious Market Common, former home of Myrtle Beach Air Force Base. War Bird Park and the Air Force Wall of Service provide the perfect patriotic backdrops for the festivities.
The parade begins at 10:30 a.m. and cruises down Howard Avenue and Farrow Parkway with thousands of spectators lining the sidewalks. A long procession of Humvees, tanks and floats will roll down the streets, with parade participants waving and tossing candy and trinkets to flag-waving supporters. Serving as grand marshal aboard the final float of the day will be Sgt. Noah Galloway, a veteran of the Iraq War who followed his combat injury with a career as motivational speaker. He also appeared on the hit TV show "Dancing with the Stars," finishing in fourth place despite losing a leg as the result of a tragic IED explosion during his tour of duty.
Galloway will also serve as the keynote speaker at the Big Family Picnic, which will be held at Grand Park immediately following the conclusion of the parade at noon. The Andrew Thielen Big Band will perform on the main stage, and patrons can feast on a family-style picnic in an ideal park setting. In addition to the various military exhibits and vendor booths, the official Veterans Beard and 'Stache Contest will give vets the chance to show off their facial hair. Home to playgrounds, hiking and biking trails, and a large lake, Grand Park allows the little ones to enjoy a great day in the outdoors while also gaining an appreciation for the freedoms provided and protected by our military servicemen and servicewomen.
While Saturday is a day of fun and celebration, Memorial Day itself is a more solemn occasion when Americans from all walks of life — ranging from veterans in full uniform to locals and tourists in flip-flops and T-shirts — gather to pay tribute to our fallen soldiers. The day of events begins with the Veterans March on Ocean Boulevard, which is less of a parade than a memorial march from 16th Avenue North to Ninth Avenue North, followed by a brief ceremony at the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk's Promenade. Sponsored by the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, the event finishes in time for the day's main event.
The official Memorial Day Remembrance Ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center's outdoor plaza. Military leaders and dignitaries will be on hand for the playing of “Taps” and the presentation of colors, as the Grand Strand Patriot Alliance provides several speakers and the Missing Man Table offers an honor guard salute to those who died serving their country. Following the ceremony, a special Memorial Day tribute film will be shown at 1 p.m. at the Market Common Cinema 14. The Myrtle Beach Pelicans will be paying tribute to veterans at their home game at 7 p.m. at Pelicans Ballpark near Broadway at the Beach.
Guests at the Caribbean Resort & Villas can celebrate Memorial Day weekend in their own way by avoiding the crowds and relaxing at the resort. With recently renovated rooms, on-site restaurants and bars, and a spacious oceanfront pool deck and waterpark, the Caribbean is the perfect place to kick back and enjoy the freedoms represented by the holiday.