The coronavirus pandemic has already changed lots about the way we shop, work and get an education. And with stay-at-home orders still in place, Memorial Day events this year, particularly in our area, are also going to look different.
While there’s no question the holiday was established to honor those lost in the armed forces, it also marks the unofficial beginning of the summer season. Some annual events are being held virtually this weekend, a mix of carefree “summer” excitement and somber military remembrances.
Officials seem aware that despite the stay-at-home orders, people may want to get outside this weekend.
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“I know it’s really difficult for the people who live in counties that are still in the red zone where the social distancing guidelines and stay at home orders stay in place,” Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine said in a news conference Tuesday. She said if you’re going to go outside, practice social distancing and wear a mask.
“Hopefully we’ll all have as enjoyable a Memorial Day weekend as we can,” she added.
If you’re not leaving your couch this weekend, there are several ways to virtually observe the actual purpose of Memorial Day.
Locally, the Philadelphia Korean War Memorial and Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial were planning virtual services, according to the city’s Office of Veterans Affairs.
And the Museum of the American Revolution will begin a virtual tribute at 12:00 a.m. Saturday.
In New Jersey, Camden County will hold a virtual commemoration Saturday at 10 at 10 a.m., including an address from Freeholder Melinda Kane, a Gold Star Mother. That will be viewable at CamdenCounty.com/MemorialDay. Also in the county, the Battleship New Jersey will hold ceremonies on Facebook Live.
You could also join a virtual event not in our area. The USAA’s wall of poppies will move online - normally it is an annual exhibit at the National Mall in Washington DC.
Or, you can observe Memorial Day virtually with the National D-Day Memorial. Details of that event were coming soon.
Several beaches in New Jersey are already open for walking and exercise - with public health protections in place. But on Friday, all public and private beaches and lakefronts will open, Gov. Phil Murphy has said.
Delaware’s beaches will also be open in time for Memorial Day weekend, Gov. John Carney has said.
In both states, there will be restrictions on crowds - some beaches and boardwalks did seem crowded last weekend - and visitors should be expected to wear a mask. Gatherings are still limited to fewer than 25 people in New Jersey.
Philly officials have said they do not want city residents heading to the beach and risking more community spread of the virus.
The Boat Owners Association of the United States predicts this weekend and summer season to be especially busy on the water.
New Jersey said some state parks may close early if capacity is reached. In all states, mask-wearing and social distancing are encouraged in the parks. Some locations may not have bathrooms open.
You can also take a virtual tour of some park locations.
The Delaware River Waterfront is hosting events including a virtual playdate and an exhibit about the history of Cherry Street Pier.
And while Spruce Street Harbor Park has a list of summer-y recipes here.
For the kids
The Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion is hosting a “creature feature” on Facebook Live each Tuesday and Friday, including this Friday, at 2 p.m. The livestream will show an animal encounter and a lesson.