By Gillian Burdett

Memorial Day has its roots in a holiday created to honor the Civil War dead. May 30, 1868 was the first Decoration Day, and graves of Civil War heroes were decorated with flowers and wreaths. Memorial Day is now a national holiday observed the last Monday in May and honors those who gave their lives in every war. The day, in addition to being one of solemn remembrance, marks the beginning of summer in U.S. culture. Most Connecticut State parks open for the season Memorial Day Weekend giving Connecticut residents and visitors outdoor spaces for hiking and picnicking. Here are a few events you may want to add to your Memorial Day Weekend calendar.

Mystic Seaport Salute To Summer And Decoration Day
75 Greenmanville Ave.
Mystic, CT 06355
(860) 572-0711

Date: May 27 through May 28, 2017

Mystic Seaport celebrates the return of summer with a 19th-century carnival. The “Salute To Summer” takes place on the museum grounds May 27 – 28, 2017. Visitors will have the opportunity to compete in harpoon throwing competitions, tug-of-war, relay races and whaleboat rowing. Memorial Day, May 29, museum guests may attend Decoration Day ceremonies to honor local Civil War soldiers. Entrance to the Mystic Seaport Memorial Day Weekend events is included in the price of a general admission ticket to the museum. Purchase tickets online to receive a 10-percent discount. Free parking is available directly across the street from the Seaport.

Old Saybrook Memorial Day Parade And Ceremonies
Old Saybrook Town Green
302 Main St.
Old Saybrook, CT 06475
(860) 395-5550

Monday, May 29, Old Saybrook is recognizing Memorial day with two ceremonies and a parade. The day opens with an 8:45 a.m. dockside ceremony at the Saybrook Point Pavilion parking lot on College Street. The ceremony includes a 9 a.m. wreath-laying ceremony on the Connecticut River. The Memorial Day parade steps off at 10 a.m. from Elm Street and travels to Main Street ending at the Veterans Memorial Monument on the Town Green. A Memorial Day program is scheduled to follow the parade on the Town Green. Unless prohibited by weather, parade spectators may expect military flyovers during the parade.

Pirelli World Challenge And Royals’ Garage Car Show At Lime Rock Park
60 White Hollow Road
Lakeville, CT 06039
(860) 435-5000

The Pirelli World Challenge auto racing series comes to Lime Rock May 26-27 for the historic track’s season opener. Multiple ticket options include weekend passes and camping sites inside the track. Prices start at $23 for a general admission ticket and $60 for a weekend pass. Sunday, May 28 is the Royals’ Garage Car Show. Admission is $5 in advance, $10 at the gate. Car show proceeds benefit local charities.

Related:  Best Places To Picnic In Connecticut

New Britain Memorial Day Parade
New Britain Parks, Recreation and Community Services
27 West Main St.
Room 302
New Britain, CT 06051
(860) 826-3362

New Britain honors veterans and active military members with a large parade held on the original Memorial Day date, May 30, which is a Tuesday in 2017. The parade steps off at 6 p.m. at the intersection of Burritt and Broad Streets. Marchers will proceed East on Broad, then south on Main past the reviewing stands in Central Park. The Parade ends at Franklin Square. More than two dozen units will be participating in the parade including nine marching bands, local organizations and veterans groups.

Related: Top Spots To Buy Gardening Supplies In Connecticut