Around Boston thousands of flags and displays are already up for Memorial Day, heralding a busy holiday weekend and explosion of travel heading into the start of the summer season.
“As we head into Memorial Day weekend, there are events all across the city and in each one of our neighborhoods and lots of spaces where people are coming together,” said Mayor Michelle Wu, standing in front of hundreds of volunteers planting flags in the Boston Common this week.
The planting of 37,369 flags — one for every fallen Massachusetts soldier since the Revolutionary War — around the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on the Common and the following event honoring the families of the soldiers started off Boston’s Memorial Day activities.
“We’re just thrilled to be able to gather again, do the traditions that folks come to know and love from Memorial Day,” said Diane Nealon, the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund.
Going into the holiday weekend, the city is set to see a huge number of events in honor of the holiday and kicking off the summer season.
These include the Boston Calling music festival featuring bands like Paramore and the Foo Fighters over three days; free admission days at the ICA and MFA museums on Monday; a Memorial Day 21-gun salute honoring fallen sailors and Marines on the U.S.S. Constitution; and many more.
In the midst of the holiday activities, weekend travel is expected to spike heavily over previous years.
Nationally, AAA is predicting 42.3 million Americans will travel for the holiday weekend, a 7% increase from last year. The day is expected to be the holiday’s third busiest travel day on record, the organization said, and the summer travel season may well be “one for the record books.”
Friday will likely see the heaviest road traffic, especially in the evening, the release said, and Saturday and Sunday are predicted to be the lightest traffic days.
Metro areas like Boston, the release said, will likely see travel times double during the weekend.
TSA also issued a release noting they anticipate 2.6 million passengers will fly over the weekend. With wage increases and changes from last year, the agency said, they’re now “ready to handle this summer’s anticipated increase in travel.”
“We’re also thinking about safety, particularly as it gets warmer and people are out and about and more activities,” Wu said. “So we’re looking to make sure that we can kick off a successful summer season but with the focus first on Memorial Day and all that that entails.”