As the nation pauses this Memorial Day weekend to remember the service given by members of the armed forces, residents of southwestern Pennsylvania also get to enjoy a few days of sunny skies, warm temperatures and gentle breezes.
Around the region, memorial services, parades and the unveiling of warm-weather favorites -- Sandcastle, spray parks, swimming pools! -- will kick off the unofficial start to a long-awaited summer.
"It looks like a dry weekend with the next chance of rain not coming until Monday night," said Brad Rehak, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Moon. "There will be a gradual warming."
Temperatures are expected to start chilly, in the mid-40s to low 50s, but reach the mid-70s Saturday and Sunday and as high as 80 on Monday, he said.
Boaters eager to soak up all that sunshine on local rivers, however, should beware, officials say. River levels on the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers are running 1 to 2 feet above normal, prompting the weather service to issue a recreational boaters advisory for the area around the Point until Monday due to potentially hazardous conditions.
"With high flow, there are fast currents and some debris," Mr. Rehak said.
Rivers are going to remain high through the weekend as dams in the upper Allegheny Basin continue to release more water, he said.
For those who want to avoid fast currents and rampaging river debris, the region's Memorial Day weekend offerings abound.
On Saturday, an interchange at the intersection of routes 119 and 22 in Burrell, Indiana County, will be dedicated to Staff Sgt. Glen Stivison, a native of Homer City and graduate of Blairsville High School who was killed in Afghanistan in 2009. The ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. at the Blairsville park-n-ride.
At Hartwood Acres, visitors can watch pyrotechnic displays including a U.S. military salute daytime display and the "Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks Challenge" at Pyrofest, which also includes music by the Clarks.
For local residents who are more musket-minded, Fort Necessity National Battlefield, east of Uniontown, will hold an encampment at the Great Meadows this weekend, beginning today. The encampment features musket firing and demonstrations to commemorate the 1754 battle.
All five Citiparks spray parks -- Vanucci Playground in Beechview, East Hills Park in East Hills, Mellon Park in Shadyside, Cowley Playground in Troy Hill and Warrington Playground in Beltzhoover -- will begin daily operation today from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. today.
Sandcastle Waterpark in Homestead begins limited hours today, opening all weekend and on Memorial Day from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It will reopen May 31-June 1 with limited hours before starting regular hours June 7.
On Sunday, veterans of the USS VI Requin Base will hold a public memorial ceremony from 10 to 11 a.m. aboard the Cold War-era submarine, docked along the Ohio River at the Carnegie Science Center. Veterans will toll a bell once for each submarine that has been lost and scatter flower petals on the Ohio River, and a Marine color guard and VFW honor guard will perform a gun salute. After the service, visitors can tour the Requin for free all day.
And at Homewood Cemetery, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto will speak at a memorial service at 2 p.m. The program features a POW/MIA remembrance ceremony, the laying of the wreath of tribute, a gun salute and taps. Bus tours of the cemetery focusing on veterans and the history of Memorial Day will be offered on the hour from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tours are free but reservations are required and must be made by calling the cemetery at 412-421-1822.
On Monday, Memorial Day services and parades will be held around the region.
Among them is one of the oldest Memorial Day parades in the country, the annual St. Mary's & Allegheny Cemetery Association Memorial Day Parade, which will begin at 10 a.m. at 39th and Butler streets in Lawrenceville. Participants can follow the parade into Allegheny Cemetery for a traditional military memorial service that will include a 21-gun salute, wreath laying, bagpipe performance and military flyover.
In Oakland, services will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum.
Participants are invited to join the parade organized by the Irwin/North Huntingdon VFW and the Irwin American Legion at 9 a.m. near Immaculate Conception Church at Second and Oak streets, with the parade beginning at 10 a.m. A program will follow at Irwin Union Cemetery.
In Zelienople and Harmony, ceremonies will be held at 9 a.m. at Zelienople Cemetery and at 9:30 a.m. at Harmony Square, followed by ceremonies at Harmony Cemetery and the Route 19 Bridge. The main ceremony, including flyovers by pilots from the Condor Aero Club and Zelienople Airport and music by the Seneca Valley Wind Ensemble, will be held at 11 a.m. at Memorial Park at Route 19 and Grandview Avenue.
In Coraopolis, Fifth Avenue from Thorn Run Road to Montour Street, along with all adjacent side streets, will be closed beginning at 11 a.m., with a parade taking place from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Amy McConnell Schaarsmith: 412-263-1719 or email@example.com.