There’s no shortage of events on Memorial Day weekend in the U.S., from parades and memorial services to cookouts and beachside fun.
However, while local and state events for the annual holiday abound, there are actually very few national Memorial Day events. So we decided to make our own list, and find out the answer to the question of what are the most talked about events for Memorial Day weekend across the country.
The result? It was the Indy 500, that most celebrated of auto races, that took the checkered flag this year.
The Indianapolis 500, more commonly known as the Indy 500, is annually held on Memorial Day weekend and is the biggest event in the professional car racing circuit. The event had three major things racing for it this year: First, this year marked its 100th anniversary, leading to extensive coverage on the race’s history. Record crowds were also expected for the event, with early estimates calling for over 350k attendees. Finally, the fact that this year it was won by an American rookie named Alexander Rossi certainly added to the U.S. coverage.
Memorial Day parades as a whole comprised second spot on the list. While local events made up a significant portion of coverage, larger parades in Chicago, New York (Little Neck-Douglaston & Brooklyn), and Washington, D.C. made up the majority of coverage.
On a sour note, adding to parade coverage was the predicted stormy weather across a large portion of the U.S., with some coverage indicating that several parades had to be cancelled.
Fleet Week, another annual event when U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard ships dock in New York for a week of celebration around Memorial Day, was good for third. There was mostly consistent positive coverage for the week and surrounding events, including well-attended events and celebrity guests.
There was a tragic element to the festivities this year, however, after significant coverage surrounding the fatal crash of a WWII-era P-47 Thunderbolt in the Hudson River.
Good for fourth on the list of top events was the popular National Memorial Day Concert, held on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Hosted by Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise, and headlined by the Beach Boys, this was a well-covered and well-attended affair.
It is also interesting to note that several of the larger, more popular festivals for Memorial Day weekend that still draw hundreds of thousands of people, including Miami’s Urban Beach Week, San Francisco’s Carnaval, and the Country 500 Music Festival did not gain any traction in the news for the period analyzed. While these were certainly discussed leading up to the weekend, they received almost no coverage over the actual Memorial Day weekend.
So wherever you are today for Memorial Day, whether you’re wearing a raincoat or sunscreen, listening to music or watching replays of a dramatic car race, it looks like there’s something for everyone to enjoy.