Memorial Day weekend is here -- the official, unofficial beginning of summer.
There will be plenty of picnics, parties, cookouts and fun, but most importantly, don't forget the reason for the holiday.
Memorial Day, which is observed Monday, is set aside to honor the men and women who have laid down their lives in service for the nation.
Because of their sacrifices, we enjoy the freedoms that allow us to enjoy this holiday.
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With that in mind, the weekend offers plenty of opportunities to celebrate those hard-earned freedoms.
Some of the top entertainment events include Mississippi Gulf Coast Symphony's Sounds by the Sea concerts in Pascagoula and Gulfport and the 34th annual Mississippi Memorial Day Blowout.
We present a roundup of some of the top events taking place this weekend. Don't forget to pay respects to the deceased veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Out of School Summer Bash: 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Gruich Community Center, 591 Howard Ave., Biloxi. Presented by Phi Alpha Beta and Biloxi Community Ambassador Association, the event is for middle and high school students and parents are also welcome. In addition to music, food, prizes and entertainment, college representatives and scholarship info will be available. Tickets: $5 pre-purchase, and $7 at the door; includes lunch. Tickets: See any PAB or BCAA member. Details: 270-872-7759.
"Our Love Affair with Baseball" All-Star Luncheon Series: Noon-1 p.m., Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art, 386 Beach Blvd., Biloxi. Guest speaker: Gary Sarnoff. Cost: $10. Details/tickets: 374-5547 or georgeohr.org.
34th annual Memorial Day Blowout: Noon-until, May 27, 9 a.m.-until, May 28, 9 a.m.-8:30 p.m. May 29 and 9 a.m. May 30, Gulfport Dragway, 17085 Racetrack Road. Street racing, live music, Daisy Dukes contest, prizes, bikini contests, tattoo contest, stunt bike contest and more. Cost: $40 per person for all weekend and $20 camper/RV/golf cart, $10 car/truck and $20 Sunday only. Details: 392-8281.
Family Movie Matinee: 2 p.m., Pass Christian Public Library, 111 Hiern Ave. Details: 452-4596.
Free Friday at Lynn Meadows: 5-8 p.m., Lynn Meadows Discovery Center, 246 Dolan Ave., Gulfport.
St. Clare Seafood Festival: 5-11 p.m. May 27 and noon-11 p.m. May 28-89, St. Clare Catholic Church, 236 S. Beach Blvd., Waveland. Features 5K race, car show, live entertainment, dance teams, fireworks and more.
5 Star Country Legends Tribute Show: 7 p.m., Mary C. O'Keefe Cultural Center, 1600 Government St,, Ocean Springs. Features Joe Norman Chunn, Bob Case, Keith Hoda, Di Anne Foxx, Gerald Songe and Bob Guidry. Cost: $15 members and $20 nonmembers.
Friday Night Dinner Dance: 7:30-10 p.m., Amour Danzar Ballroom, 9355 County Farm Road, Gulfport. Dinner begins 7:45 p.m. and dance begins at 8:15 p.m. Cost: $6 dinner and $10 casual dance. Details: 324-3730.
Art House sale: 8 a.m.-2 p.m., 921 Cash Alley, downtown Ocean Springs. Fundraising event will include art and art related supplies, antiques and more. Details: 875-9285.
37th annual Gem, Mineral, Fossil and Jewelry Show: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. May 28, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. May 29, Joppa Shrine Temple, 13280 Shriners Blvd., Biloxi. Cost: $5 adults and free to children under age 12. Enjoy demonstrations, exhibits, vendors, activities and more. Details: 251-937-3529.
Mississippi Frogs and Toads: 10-11:30 a.m., Pascagoula River Audubon Center, 5107 Arthur St., Moss Point. Features Molly Folkerts. Details: 475-0825.
Saturday Family Day in the Studio: 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. or 2-4 p.m., Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art, Ceramics Studio, 386 Beach Blvd., Biloxi. Cost: $13 per person. All ages welcome. Class size limited to 20. Details: 374-5547.
12th annual Daylily Show: 1-4 p.m., Edgewater Mall in front of Dillard's, Biloxi. Plant sales begin at 10 a.m. Growers desiring to enter flower exhibit must arrive between 8-10 a.m. Details: 475-8012.
Crawfish Cookoff: 1-5 p.m., D'Iberville Moose Lodge, 5145 W. Gay Road. Enter: $50 for team of four. Attend: $15 in advance, $20 at the door. Details: 243-6037.
Tee-Off Summer Craft event: 2 p.m., Ocean Springs Municipal Library, 525 Dewey Ave. Attendees must bring a T-shirt or two. Class size limited. Designed for ages 8 and older. Details: 875-1193.
Protein Knife Skills: 3-6 p.m., Mary C. O'Keefe Cultural Center, 1600 Government St., Ocean Springs. Cost: $50 members and $60 nonmembers. With Chef Cheri. Details: 818-2878.
Piano recital: 6 p.m., Haven Chapel United Methodist Church, 1310 Mills Ave., Gulfport.
Flora-Bama 50th Anniversary The Documentary: 7:30 p.m., Mary C. O'Keefe Cultural Center, 1600 Government St., Ocean Springs. Cost: $10 members and $12 nonmembers.
Jazz in the Pass: Noon -8 p.m. War Memorial Park, Scenic Drive, Pass Christian. Features arts and craft vendors, food vendors and drinks and as well as Jazz in the Pass T-shirts and merchandise. Schedule: noon-12:30 p.m. Pass Christian High School Jazz Band; 12:30-1:15 FGH Quartet; 1:30-3:30 p.m. D'Low Band; 3:45-5:45 p.m. Band of Gold; 6-8 p.m. Starz The event is sponsored by Waste Pro, Rex Distributing, Visit Mississippi, Coca-Cola, City of Pass Christian and Pass Christian Main Street.
Memorial Day Ceremony: 7:30 a.m., Jones Park, Barksdale Pavilion, Gulfport. VFW Post 2539 and city of Gulfport will conduct ceremony to honor nation's deceased military veterans. Details: 313-1048.