Top Ways to Celebrate Memorial Day Weekend in NYC

By Alissa Ambrose and William Gorta  on May 25, 2012 6:58am

Members of the armed forces marched in what is believed to be the City's oldest Memorial Day parade.
Members of the armed forces marched in what is believed to be the City's oldest Memorial Day parade.
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DNAinfo/Carla Zanoni

NEW YORK CITY — Get ready to switch on the air conditioning and run for the beach — Memorial Day weekend is set to be a steambath.

Rainclouds will blanket city skies throughout the holiday weekend, with scattered thunderstorms and a high of 76 degrees expected on Friday, followed by a hot and humid Saturday and a chance of showers on Sunday, with temperatures hovering in the low-to-mid 80s, according to Accuweather.

The skies are expected to clear up for Memorial Day, with a high of 83 degrees.

Mayor Bloomberg encouraged New Yorkers to seek out the beach this weekend — as the official opening of the city's 14 miles of ocean front opens for the season on Saturday.

"The beach is ready, and I think all New Yorkers are ready for a well-deserved three-day weekend," Bloomberg told reporters at an announcement on the Coney Island boardwalk Thursday.

"New Yorkers will be flocking to Coney Island to soak up some sun and surf and swim and try out the spine-chilling rides.”

Under city rules, swimming is only allowed while lifeguards are on duty between the hours of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

New York’s many parks and playgrounds are also a great option for relaxing outdoors this weekend. Once the weather hits 80 degrees, the Parks Department will turn on the sprinklers in parks and playgrounds in all five boroughs. 

The sprinklers will come on at approximately 10 a.m. until the parks close at dusk. Check out a full list of locations here.

New Yorkers can also line up for one of the city's many Memorial Day parades to pay tribute to the nation's armed services.

“Lots of parades, which are fun for the kids, but they have a serious purpose,” Bloomberg said.

“It is to remind us of the men and women that created this country and have been keeping us safe for the last 235 odd years, and also to say thank you to those who are currently serving.”

The 145th annual Brooklyn Memorial Day Parade, the longest running Memorial Day Parade in the country, will kick off at 11 a.m. at 87th Street and Third Avenue in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

In Queens, The Woodside Memorial Day Parade, held by the Catholic War Veterans Post No. 870, will start at St. Sebastian’s Roman Catholic Church, at 39-46 61st St. at 11 a.m., following a special mass and ceremony near the Vietnam memorial.

The Intrepid Air and Space museum is hosting a series of events to celebrate and honor the armed forces in connection with their New York Fleet Week festivities. On Saturday, come see military personnel battle it out at a Tug of War competition  from 10:30 a.m. until noon, or check out the swing vocal trio The Manhattan Dolls at 2 p.m.

From 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. all weekend, the public can tour the historic Guayas tall ship. On Monday, a special Memorial Day Ceremony will honor military men and women who have fallen in the line of duty at 11:30 a.m.

For history buffs, a special Memorial Day walking tour in Central Park will give participants a look at how the park has been used to honor veterans over the years. The tour will be on Monday from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and will cover about two miles. Participants should meet at the Maine Monument in Columbus Circle. For more information call 212-794-4064.

At Coney Island, two brand-new rides at the Scream Zone at Luna Park amusement park offer an adrenaline-packed Memorial Day weekend. "The Boardwalk Flight" is a 110-foot free-fall ride that mimics sky diving, while the "Coney Island Raceway" lets you speed around a Go-Kart track complete with hair pin turns.

For the more faint of heart, the Coney Island History Project will open its 2012 season this weekend. Located on West 12th Street, visitors can check out artifacts, photos and more from Coney Island’s colorful history.

For kids, the Spring Festival at Captain Tilly Park in Queens will offer free activities including arts and crafts, face painting and a petting zoo, from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday. 

If you want to explore the city by boat, Kayaking on the Hudson is offering a free 20-minute paddle on the river. Participants will meet at Riverside Park near 72nd Street between 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. And if you miss it this weekend, don’t despair — the event will repeat every weekend until October, weather permitting.

For biking enthusiasts, the Urban Park Rangers have organized a bike tour of Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx on Saturday. You must bring your own bike and helmet.  Beginner bikers can also benefit from Bicycling Basics, a free 3-hour class for adults and mature teens who are new to bike riding. Also in Van Cortlandt Park from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Saturday. 

Haven’t been to Governors Island yet? This weekend marks the beginning of the season for the island which is reachable by free ferry from 10am until 7pm. There are a variety of free and paid for events and activities throughout the summer. This weekend’s main event is the 5 Boro Picnyc. Ticket holders can sample food from chefs from all five boroughs, drink craft beer and check out grilled cheese and taco competitions. Tickets run from $25 to $55 and are available here

And for those looking to take shelter from a passing rainstorm, there's plenty of fun to be had indoors. Many New York museums will be open for the Monday holiday including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History and the New York Aquarium.

The Guggenheim is also open Monday and is offering free admission for active duty military personnel and their families beginning on Monday. 

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