Memorial Day started out as “Decoration Day” when families started to decorate the grave sites of loved ones who had been killed during the Civil War. It became a national holiday in 1866, shortly after this war ended and was commemorated on May 30th. After World War II the name was officially changed to Memorial Day. At this time many began to honor not only veterans who had been killed in the line of duty but also for beloved relatives and friends who had passed away. In 1971 Congress changed the date to the last Monday in May in order to coincide the holiday with a long weekend. Today Memorial Day is also the unofficial start of the Summer season.
A memorial is defined as “serving as a remembrance of a person or event” so it is certainly fitting that in Destin and South Walton our Ocean Reef guests come to create wonderful memories with family and friends who are still with us. And yes, it is definitely the kick off of the Summer season for family beach vacations and friendship reunions! No matter which of our wonderful, vacation rental properties you choose to meet your needs, festivities will not be far away.
In Destin at Harborwalk Village it all starts on Friday at 7pm with an Elvis Presley Blue Hawaiian Show at the Village Stage. Famed Elvis impersonator Ron Adams will be singing and gyrating his stuff in a live, free concert. This popular, talented singer has been performing his special tribute to Elvis for almost twenty-five years to sold out audiences nationwide. His expressive lightning blue eyes and jet black hair bear an amazing resemblance to the original Elvis. Ron's passionate mannerisms, body moves and voice are amazingly similar to the original king of rock, which allows him to put on a great performance. He also has an incredible ensemble of Elvis outfits including a white jump suit which was copied from the original Elvis costume worn in the movie “Aloha Hawaii.” This free concert should be quite a show so be sure to arrive early.
Complimentary kid crafts and face painting will be happening at Harborwalk Village all of Memorial weekend from 6 to 8pm. Journey music fans can celebrate their own brand of nostalgia on Saturday night. There will be another live concert here on the Village Stage conducted by the talented Journey Tribute Band. On Sunday night at 7 there is a gala performance of the new Operation Inspiration concert series. A group known as the Know Hope Collective will celebrate with upbeat and soulful Christian music. This group is headed up by Mark Stuart who is a consecutive Grammy Award winner. Formerly the lead musician for Audio Adrenaline, Mark received Grammys for his albums “Until My Heart Cares” and “Worldwide.” Besides the uplifting, inspirational songs there will be a giant fireworks show over Destin Harbor at 8:30 that same Sunday night. If you have never attended fireworks here, you should definitely check it out. The bursts of colorful displays in the sky are mirrored in the harbor below which is quite a memorable sight.
For our Ocean Reef guests who have access to the boats of friends, (or boat rentals on the harbor), there will be a three day concert at Crab Island. This “island” is now submerged but in reality it used to be a sort of glorified sandbar in years gone by. As you might guess, it was also a great place to go crabbing, hence the name. Now Crab Island is “party central” for the boating crowd. If you haven't been able to get out there, you have probably seen them all congregating near the old Destin Bridge on many warm, sunny days. The fleet, so to speak, includes everything from luxury yachts to jet skis. Rented pontoon boats are particularly popular since you can load up a lot of party goers, plenty of iced beverages and lots of picnic food aboard these vessels. The crystal clear waters are only about two or three feet deep on average and you can often see dolphins swimming in the distance. On Saturday, May 28th a local favorite called Cabo Rock plays live on a floating stage. This group originates from Destin and is a power house six piece band that plays tributes to Journey, Van Halen, Aerosmith, Kansas, Styx, Pink Floyd and many more. On Sunday the 29th the 31 South Band performs with classic Southern Rock, Country hits and even some beach dance tunes. On Monday the 30th Waitin On Jake will be playing. This four piece band is another local favorite group who specialize in a huge variety of party rock music.
Other events at Crab Island will include a fun, unofficial Water Volley Ball Tournament which is open to anyone who might want to play. If you don't have the time or inclination to pack your own party feast, you can buy munchies or beverages at KC's Sandbar & Grill. This floating, seasonal restaurant will be nearby offering a wide variety of delicious options. They include Italian subs; Club sandwiches; Smoked ham, beef, turkey and chicken wings; BBQ sandwiches and ribs; Cheeseburgers & Sliders; Stuffed Potato Skins, Nachos and Smoked Tuna Dip. Thirsty? Well they also offer ice cold domestic and imported beers, wine, cocktails, frozen drinks, spring water and sodas.
Down the road at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Miramar Beach, a number of celebrations are taking place at the charming village of Baytowne Wharf. A live band will be playing every night at the village green on the Events Plaza Stage. Featuring a husband and wife team called Coconut Radio, this band specializes in island music, delightful tropical melodies, pops and some blues. They will be playing Friday, Saturday and Sunday night from 7 to 9pm.
During the days over Memorial Weekend starting at 10am and going until 9pm there will be a number of fun events for children at Baytowne including the new Roaring River Water Slide. There are also line pulls to swing across the lagoon from two tall towers, giant “Bubble Balls” which float around a big pool with kids trying to maneuver each from within and even a horse carousel merry-go-round. Face painting and balloon sculptures will also be available from 6 to 9pm. On Sunday night there will be a big fireworks display at 9:15 which will be shot off over the village lagoon with a patriotic theme. On Monday, just before sunset there will be a special Memorial Day Veteran's Concert performed at the Events Plaza Stage. This will be attended by local Sandestin veterans along with a brass band that will be on loan from the Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra. Of course, anyone who has stayed at one of Ocean Reef's superb Sandestin vacation rentals knows what a magical place Baytowne has become. You can visit there even if you are not staying on the grounds of this most special “artificial kingdom” and many of our other special rental abodes are nearby. The whole village abounds with venues of entertainment which include live performances, dueling pianos, harbor side cafes and fine restaurants as well as some charming retail establishments. At this time of the year the sun sets over the water on the Choctawhatchee Bay and offers awesome, ethereal skies in radiant color which can be viewed from the long wharf at the far end of the village.
If you are in the mood for a sunset cruise, don't forget about the SS Solaris which is docked there. This three tier dinner cruise boat has fantastic food, wonderful music and awesome dolphin filled views of the waters and shoreline. As an Ocean Reef guest, dinner for you is on us if you buy another ticket for your guest or a loved one.
From Destin all the way down along Scenic Highway 30A in South Walton a number of restaurants and bars will be featuring live entertainment as well throughout the entire weekend. Going from west to east these include AJs in Destin; Pompano Joe's on Scenic Gulf Drive, Tommy Bahama's at Grand Boulevard, Rum Runner's and the Village Door at Baytowne in Miramar Beach; the Ballyhoo Bar & Grill in Santa Rosa Beach; the Red Bar and Shorty's Surfside in old Grayton Beach; and the Old Florida Fish House in Seagrove Beach.
The famous village of Seaside has lots of Memorial Weekend festivities of their own. Saturday morning kicks off with the regularly scheduled Farmer's Market around the green. At 7pm that night The Dirty Guv'nahs will be playing at the outdoor Seaside Amphitheater under the stars with their special guest Light Pilot. On Sunday you can have some complimentary champagne and chocolates from 10am to 8pm at the Memorable Jewelry Trunk Show. This event will be held at the Shimmering Seaside Jewelry and Gift Store in the village. They will also be handing out some free souvenir jewelry to attendees while supplies last. On Sunday night at 8pm, they will be showing the hilarious “Despicable Me” feature on their regularly scheduled movie night which is also held under the stars at the outdoor amphitheater.
No matter where you decide to stay and where ever you decide to go, Ocean Reef Resorts is happy to accommodate you and yours in one of our desirable vacation rentals. It is our great pleasure to help provide your family with the happy moments that will make this Memorial Day Vacation a treasured memory for years to come.