Carroll County Times

Plan for increased travel on Memorial Day

With the erratic weather so far this year, it can be hard to believe that Memorial Day weekend is less than a week away, but with the holiday fast approaching, families are busy planning out their trips and celebrations.

According to a news release from AAA, 36.1 million Americans are expected to travel more than 50 miles for the holiday weekend, with the majority of families traveling by car.

Christine Delise, of AAA Mid-Atlantic, said the estimate is an increase from past years, and represents the second highest number of travelers since 2000.

With the start of summer comes the beginning of beach season, and many Carroll residents are expected to be planning a trip to nearby Ocean City.

Jessica Waters, communications manager for Ocean City, said the city historically sees between 250,000 and 300,000 visitors over Memorial Day weekend, with weather conditions accounting for much of the fluctuation.

"I think people have been cooped up in their homes, and for most of us, we haven't experienced as many snow days as we've gotten this year for as long as we can remember," Waters said. "We're always optimistic, though. I think we'll see people in the masses, especially if the sun will shine."

Waters said the weekend is historically one of the busiest the city has to deal with, with the travel increase beginning Thursday and lasting through Memorial Day itself.

Families looking to have the waterfront fun without having to deal with the increase in Memorial Day traffic may hit up one of the Carroll County pools, opening, as always, Memorial Day weekend. The Westminster Municipal Pool will feature a grand opening event Saturday, May 24, and Sunday, May 25, with prizes to the first 100 visitors, and music and games Monday, May 26.

For those looking for a more secluded weekend of activities, Maryland's state parks will be open for visitors throughout the holiday.

Deb Fritz, of New Windsor, said she and her family are forgoing the classic beach trip for a camping excursion to Gettysburg, Pa. She said vacationing so near to home helps the family avoid any travel issues.

"It's just a relaxing, peaceful weekend. We camp a lot, so it's natural we'd go for the holiday," Fritz said. "I don't think there's anything that would stop us from camping on Memorial Day. God willing, as long as we're healthy enough, we'll continue to do it every year."

Carroll residents who wish to honor the memory of veterans will have a host of opportunities in the county throughout the weekend. Memorial Day services will be held at the Monacacy Valley VFW at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, May 24, and on Sunday, May 25, services will be held at 2 p.m. at Pleasant Valley Cemetery. On Monday, May 26, services will be held at 2 p.m. at the Hesson-Snider American Legion Post in Taneytown, at 9 a.m. at the War Memorial on Main Street in Hampstead and at 11 a.m. at Pine Grove Chapel in Mount Airy. The events will feature prayer, guest speakers and music.

Memorial Day morning, Westminster will hold its annual Memorial Day parade starting at 10 a.m. on Pennsylvania Avenue. Organizer Daniel Bohn said interest and participation seem to have increased over past years. The parade will feature the city band, high school bands, Junior ROTC members, members of Kiwanis, Rotary and Lions clubs, majorette groups and both Civil War and World War II re-enactors.

Later that evening, at the opening of the Union Bridge fire company's annual carnival, a Memorial Day service will be held at Post 8806 at 6 p.m.

In 1868, Gen. John Logan officially proclaimed observances of Memorial Day should be held in remembrance of the soldiers who died during the Civil War, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. That year, Westminster held the first organized Memorial Day celebration in Carroll County. The date was soon moved to the last Monday of May. After World War I, the observances were expanded in remembrance of American soldiers who have died in all wars.

No matter where vacationers are on Memorial Day, at 3 p.m. they can participate in the National Moment of Remembrance moment of silence, honoring those who have died in service.