Memorial Day Parade and lots of fun options for this weekend

By Aisha I. Jefferson

Haven’t locked down plans for this weekend?

Don’t worry. Here are top picks for having fun for the Memorial Day holiday.

State Street never sleeps, but on Saturday it will be packed with people remembering America’s fallen heroes.

The City of Chicago’s Annual Memorial Day Parade kicks off at 11 a.m. with a wreath laying ceremony at Daley Plaza, and will continue with the actual parade at noon. The parade will begin at State and Lake Streets and continue down State to Van Buren Street.

The parade is open to everyone and is time to honor those who gave “the ultimate sacrifice” for this country, said Mary May, spokesperson for the City of Chicago Dept. of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

“It’s another day to find that big sale or to get an inexpensive mattress or new car. Memorial Day is about respect, it’s about honoring,” May said, adding that at least 6,000 people are expected to attend.

Brigadier Gen. Alicia Tate-Nadea, the first female commander at the Illinois National Guard, will serve as the parade’s grand marshal, and Gregory Holmes, a senior at the Chicago Military Academy, will be honored as Cadet of the Year.

Hop you bike on Sunday for the once-a-year chance to cycle on Lake Shore Drive. The drive will shut down at 5:30 a.m. on Sunday for the annual MB Financial Bank Bike the Drive event.

It will stretch from Bryn Mawr on the North Side to 57th Street at the front lawn of the Museum of Science and Industry on the South Side, 30 miles round-trip.

“It’s just a great to experience the best of Chicago. Without any car traffic you can hear the waves crashing, you can hear the birds chirping and of course the unobstructed views as you peddle by,” Clare McDermott, director of special events and marketing for the Active Transportation Alliance.

The event costs $57 until 1 p.m. Saturday and $63 on Sunday. There’s also a Bike the Drive festival that starts at 8 a.m.

To bask in the sun, head to one of the beaches in the city or suburbs.

They officially open this weekend and many of them, such as the 31st Street beach, offer excellent views of the city. Dip your toe in the water before splashing in for a swim – the lake is still cold.

The Maggie Daley Park is another to-do list option.

Photo at top: 31st Street Harbor. Aisha I. Jefferson/Medill