Memorial Day Traditions

The grill is cooking and the weather is fine. It’s that time of year again: time to fire up the barbie, invite some friends over, and remember those who served in the U.S. military.

Usually, my family and I are invited to my aunt and uncle’s place for a barbecue. My uncle cooks bounteous amounts of brats, hamburgers, and hot dogs on the grill, while my aunt throws together potato salad, French fries, and fruit salad. My mom will make a tray of ice cream Jell-O. If you haven’t had it, you’re missing out! I always bring a watermelon or two because my little cousins love getting covered in watermelon juice, and hey, I do, too! Another one of my favorite foods to throw on the barbie is corn on the cob.

We will set up bags in the backyard, play croquet, and toss a football around. Every year I bring my cousins bubbles and a gigantic wand so I can easily keep them, and myself, entertained.

After everyone takes part in the scrumptious barbecue foods and the sun begins to set, we usually have a bonfire. My family and I will gather around the fire and reminisce about the memories we have shared with our veterans and each other over the years. My father and uncle will tell us stories from their childhoods: “When we were kids, we used to…” Although I have heard all of their stories many times, I still love hearing them time and time again.

If you don’t have access to a grill or any of the aforementioned amenities  and are stuck in Chicago, fear not! There is plenty to do in the city on Memorial Day weekend.

Navy Pier kicks off its fireworks schedule on, you guessed it, Memorial Day weekend! The fireworks will commence at 10:15 p.m. on Saturday, May 28. The day before (Friday, May 27), the new Ferris wheel will open!

The Chicago Memorial Day Parade will take place on Saturday, May 28, at noon, while the wreath-laying ceremony begins at 11 a.m.

On Sunday, May 29, my mom and I will be cruising down Lake Shore Drive on our bicycles for the annual Bike the Drive. Maybe we will see you there?

All of Chicago’s beaches open up on Friday, May 27!

Memorial Day is the unofficial kickoff of summer. What are some of your favorite foods, family traditions, and things to do on Memorial Day?