Marking the unofficial start of summer, Memorial Day always takes too long to get here -- and then passes by frustratingly fast.
But what if you could stop to smell the proverbial roses -- hour after hour after hour?
We’ve rounded up a host of fun (a circus!), exhilarating or suitably patriotic things to do all around metro Atlanta on Monday (we’ve even included one that starts on Sunday night and goes into the wee hours of Monday morning to help kick off the holiday). Many of them are free and suitable for people of all ages.
You don’t have to do them all, of course. (But if you do, drop us a line...We’d love to know how it’s done!)
8 p.m. Sunday - 2 a.m. Monday. Pre-Memorial Day Party. Johnny’s Hideaway, 3771 Roswell Rd NE Atlanta. Live music with DJ Spin, plus all the usual fun at one of Atlanta’s classic nightspots -- right down to the “Sinatra Room.” A grown-up fun way to get a jump on the holiday. www.johnnyshideaway.com
7 a.m. and 8 a.m. Dacula Memorial Day 5K and 1 Mile Fun Run. Dacula Park, 205 Dacula Road, Dacula. $25, $15 ages 12 and younger. Get a figurative and literal running start on celebrating with the 22nd annual version of this popular event. The 1 Mile run/walk starts at 7:30 a.m. and the 5K starts at 8:00a.m. And proving it really is Memorial All Day: Organizers caution not to park in Dacula Park if you plan on leaving right after the race, “as you will be blocked in by the parade” (see 10 a.m.). www.daculamemorialday.com.
9 a.m. City of Smyrna Memorial Day Ceremony. 20th Century Veterans Memorial (adjacent to Smyrna City Hall), 2800 King St., Smyrna. Free. Pre-seating begins at 8:30 a.m. for 9:30 a.m. ceremony (some pre-ceremony events begin at 9 a.m.). Organized by Smyrna Veterans Committee, event honors those who have sacrificed in defense of our nation and is particularly significant this year as it marks the 100th anniversary of the U.S.’s entry into World War I. Attendees can also view displays of current and vintage military and security vehicles and weaponry, a US Marine Patrol Boat, H3 Hummer and more. For information about the event and the veterans memorial go to www.smyrnacity.com and look under “upcoming events.”
10 a.m. Dacula Memorial Day Parade. Steps off, rain or shine, at 10 a.m. at Hebron Baptist Church (202 Hebron Church Road), proceeds down Dacula Road and ends at Dacula High School. Free. This year’s 24th version features as its grand marshal Mary S. Pittman, 96, a U.S. Army veteran of World War II and a resident of Lawrenceville. The only Memorial Day parade in Metro Atlanta and the largest in the the state of Georgia, it will feature more than 150 participating units and include a C-130 Aerial Flyover from Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta. www.daculamemorialday.com
10:30 a.m. Yaarab Shrine’s 75th Anniversary Shrine Circus. J.R. Miller Park, Marietta. Free admission for all veterans on Memorial Day. Others: $7, children 10 and under free. The ideal idyll for those looking to round out a day of parades and picnics with the astounding acts of trapeze artists, the Reel Steel Riders, animals and — of course — the famous Shrine clowns. A ticket gets you into the Midway Carnival, which opens at 10 a.m. and features 40 rides and attractions, plus food and drink. It also includes unlimited access all that day to the circus performances under the Big Top (on Memorial Day, the shows are at 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.). www.yaarabshrine.net
11 a.m. Roswell Remembers. Roswell City Hall complex, 38 Hill St., Roswell. Free. The largest Memorial Day ceremony in Georgia, the official program begins at 11 a.m., although exhibits open and music begins at 10 a.m. Beloved DJ Moby willl emcee the program, which includes bagpipe and bugle music, a 21-gun salute, a wreath laying, a speech by World War II Army veteran Hank Freedman, who was captured during the Battle of the Bulge and is the recipient of the Bronze Star, the French Legion of Honor and multiple other medals. After the ceremony, you can enjoy live music and picnicking on the grounds (barbecue will be available for purchase on-site). www.roswellmemorialday.com.
Noon. Memorial Day Ceremony. Marietta National Cemetery, corner of Cole Street and Washington Avenue, Marietta. Free. Now in its 72ndyear, this annual event organized by the National Memorial Day Association of Georgia begins promptly at noon. Set against a backdrop of the graves of more than 10,000 veterans from 23 states, it features patriotic music, posting of the colors, prayers, a gun salute and inspiring speakers. Additionally, this year’s event will honor The Georgia National Guard Family Support Organization. Complete event info: www.nmdaga.org
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1 p.m. Gwinnett Braves vs. Syracuse Chiefs. 1:05 p.m. Coolray Field, Lawrenceville. $8 - $40. See ‘em while they’re still the “Braves,” sniff! (the Triple-A affiliate of the big league club up the road just announced plans to rename the team for the 2018 season and beyond, including a fan contest to come up with the new monkier). Along with Monday afternoon’s game, the G-Braves will mark and honor the Centennial Anniversary of the U.S.’s involvement in World War I in a number of ways including special presentations, flag giveaways, displays of military vehicles and more. www.mlb.com
1 p.m. - 4 p.m. Atlanta Jazz Festival’s BMW Concert Series. BMW of Gwinnett Place, 3264 Commerce Ave NW, Duluth, and United BMW Alpharetta, 1501 Alpharetta Hwy, Alpharetta. Free. As part of the AJF’s “40 Days of Jazz” programming, four BMW dealership locations around metro Atlanta will take turns hosting live performances on Memorial Day. From 2 p.m. - 4 p.m., Gwen Hughes will be at the Gwinnett location and as yet unannounced artist will be at the Alpharetta location. Additionally, from 1 - 3 p.m., you can catch the following artists at these locations: Tamara Goldinella at Nally BMW of Decatur, 1606 Church St. Decatur; Brandon Boone at BMW of South Atlanta, 4171 Jonesboro Rd, Union City. Information on this and all Atlanta Jazz Festival events at www. atlantafestivals.com.
4 p.m. - 6 p.m. Memorial Day Paddle. Don Carter State Park, 5000 N Browning Bridge Rd, Gainesville. $15 with personal kayak, $25 with rental kayak (available at park), plus $5 parking. Look for wading birds, raptors and other elements of nature during a kayak outing on the Chattahoochee River. Anyone taking part MUST be able to swim and children participating have to be 6 or older AND accompanied by an adult. Bring water, a flashlight and binoculars if you have them, and meet at the boat ramp. Pre-registration is required by calling 678-450-7726. www.gastateparks.org/doncarter
10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Ride, Dip, “Battle” your way through the holiday and much more. Six Flags Over Georgia, 275 Riverside Parkway, SW, Austell. $67.99 general admission, $47.99 children under 48” (Note: Discounts and deals are available for tickets purchased in advance or online at www.sixflags.com). Billing this holiday weekend as “the official start of summer,” Six Flags will be the place to go let it all hang out all day into the evening on Memorial Day: The brand new, immersive Justice League: Battle for Metropolis thrill ride (read the AJC’s preview story here) and water park extravaganza Hurricane Harbor both officially open this Friday (May 26). The water park is open from noon to 6 p.m. on Memorial Day, with Six Flags itself closing an hour later (it’s open until 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday). Battling supervillans and going through a hurricane: Not a bad way to get ready for the work week ahead. www.sixflags.com
8 p.m. Not to sound like your mother, but eat something! You’ve had a long day of celebrating and honoring others’ service to our country. And it’s not over yet.
9 p.m. Special “Salute to the Troops” extended fireworks and Laser Show Spectacular. Stone Mountain Park, 1000 Robert E.Lee Blvd., Stone Mountain. Free when you pay the $15 parking fee to enter the park (you can purchase parking online here). Show starts at 9:30 p.m., but you’ll want to be there early to get a good viewing spot of the backdrop of the mountain with its famous carving. In addition to the “usual” fare — digital graphics, lasers, drones, fireworks and other fire effects—there’ll be some added Memorial Day oomph. From May 26-29, a special “patriotic” fireworks finale right after the laser show will make the skies above light up in a specially choreographed musical tribute honoring the brave men and women who protect our country, according to the park. (Music by the Stephen Lee Band from 7:30 p.m. - 9 p.m.) www.stonemountainpark.com