To Do: Memorial Day Activities

Staying in town over Memorial Day weekend? There’s lots to do to celebrate the official start of summer—from parades and concerts on the Mall to foodie fun at local restaurants.

By: Emily Leaman

The annual Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Rally, which raises awareness about veterans’ benefits and POW issues, is bringing thousands of motorcyclists to DC streets Sunday. They depart from the Pentagon at noon and ride to the Reflecting Pool for a 1:30 program with guest speakers and live music.

Sunday evening at 8, PBS broadcasts its Memorial Day concert from the west lawn of the Capitol. The concert, cohosted by CSI: New York’s Gary Sinise and Tony Award winner and Criminal Minds star Joe Mantegna, includes appearances by actors and guest artists as well as performances by the National Symphony Orchestra. The National Memorial Day Parade is Monday, with marching bands, floats, and the nurse who got smooched in that iconic VJ Day photo from 1945 making their way up Constitution Avenue from Seventh Street to 17th Street, Northwest, at 2 PM.

Take a picnic lunch to Fort Ward Park in Alexandria Monday for the annual Memorial Day Jazz Fest featuring big-band, swing, and contemporary jazz music. A new band takes the stage each hour from 1 to 7. Free.

Sou’Wester chef Eric Ziebold is kicking off a series of summer lawn parties this weekend with the Memorial Day Crab Pot. The family-style outdoor meal includes summertime staples such as roasted blue crabs, boiled Carolina shrimp, hushpuppies, fried chicken, and ice-cream cones. The event is Sunday at lunch (1 to 3) and dinner (6 to 8). Tickets are $70 a person; call 202-787-6068 to make reservations.

Have a hankering for pork? Clarendon’s 3 Bar & Grill is roasting a 250-pound pig on Sunday to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. As part of the Memorial Day Charitable Pig Roast, pulled-pork sandwiches will be $5 (suggested donation), and drink specials—$3 Bell’s Oberon Ale, $2 Miller Lite, and $5 bacon Bloody Marys—will be available. Festivities get under way at 4.

Café Saint-Ex and Bar Pilar are holding their second annual Memorial Day Chili Cook-Off Monday. The event pits the restaurants’ chili recipes against the concoctions of local chili makers. The winners—chosen by a panel of five judges—take home prizes. Proceeds from chili sales and a student-run lemonade stand go to the Fillmore Arts Center, a local program that reaches more than 2,000 public-school students. Noon to 4.