Memorial Day events gear up after pandemic hiatus

The Memorial Day event at the Veterans Memorial Center last year had only about 30 participants. This year, the crowds are expected to be much larger.

A sure sign the pandemic has turned the corner is the number of planned Memorial Day events this year as compared to last.

In 2020, the Veterans Memorial Center hosted the three Memorial Day events in Brevard, with an attendance that hovered under 100 people for all three events. This year, considerably larger crowds are estimated.

“It’s an amazing rebound,” Gold Star parent Donn Weaver said.

Topping the list for the number of anticipated participants is the event sponsored by the Florida Chapter of Rolling Thunder, a veterans’ advocacy organization that includes a significant number of motorcyclists.

More than 1,000 riders representing five major motorcycle clubs in Florida, including the Patriotic Guard Riders, will thunder into the Space Coast from May 28 to 30.

The Veterans Memorial Center and Museum, at 400 S. Sykes Creek Parkway on Merritt Island, will be the base for the weekend, which includes a visit by the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall, a candlelight vigil, breakfast, food trucks and concerts.

Beginning at 9 a.m. on Memorial Day, the VMC will host its annual Memorial Day Ceremony, with refreshments, displays and a special recognition this year for the U.S. Marine Corps. Guest speakers will include Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey and retired U.S. Army Col. Danny McKnight, whose participation in the Battle of Mogadishu, Somalia was depicted in the film “Black Hawk Down.”

The Cape Canaveral National Cemetery in Mims is tentatively slated to hold a Memorial Day ceremony at 9 a.m. on Memorial Day, as is the

J.S. Stone Memorial Cemetery at 2621 Grant St. in Melbourne. The Brevard Veterans Cemetery in Titusville will host its Memorial Day ceremony at 10 a.m. May 29.

Historic Cocoa Village will honor America’s military heroes with a Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony at Riverfront Park, beginning at 4 p.m. on Memorial Day.

Other local municipalities and veterans’ groups also might host smaller observances.

For more details, call 321-453-1776.