Nevada County ushers in Memorial Day weekend | TheUnion.com

Nevada County ushers in Memorial Day weekend

Jennifer Nobles
Staff Writer

Veteran’s memorials stand in Nevada City’s Pioneer Park. The Veterans of Foreign Wars will host a Memorial Day ceremony in the park on Monday morning at 9 a.m..

The Memorial Day weekend has long been thought of as the unofficial beginning of summer.

The weekend also lends folks a time to remember those whom they've loved and lost, and pay tribute to the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure that Americans enjoy their freedoms.

It also offers a flurry of activities, with several events honoring our fallen veterans.

All weekend long, Hooper & Weaver Mortuary in Nevada City will present its Butterfly Garden of remembrance in conjunction with Friends of Hospice.

A $15 donation to Friends of Hospice will buy participants a card which they can fill out with a message of remembrance dedicated to a departed loved one. The cards are tied to locally crafted wrought iron butterflies which are then posted in the designated garden where the messages of love create a beautiful exhibit.

The fundraiser is in its 18th year, and Hooper & Weaver owner-director Kay Lott Baker said that students from Nevada Union's Future Farmers of America program play a key role.

Recommended Stories For You

"They come and they plant the flowers that we buy from them that they grow," said Baker. "We have their flowers at our entrance and around all of our cemeteries, and they also are assisting our cemetery crew with putting the flags in. They're just wonderful."

The garden can be viewed Saturday and Sunday at Hooper & Weaver in Nevada City.

Matt Melugin, director of Nevada Cemetery District, said that the 27 cemeteries in his district will be prepared for the Memorial Day weekend.

"We get them cleaned up and get flags out on Veterans' markers," Melugin said.

In Grass Valley, a Memorial Day ceremony begins at 11 a.m. Monday at Memorial Park, followed by a barbecue lunch at noon.

Touring tributes

Monday will also mark the Local Heroes' Memorial Bridge Tours.

Following the 9 a.m. Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial Day ceremony in Pioneer Park, the Tour of Nevada City Bicycle Shop will host the seventh annual bike tour on behalf of the Nevada County Consolidated Veterans Council.

Participants will visit the 15 memorial bridges in Nevada City and Grass Valley that are dedicated to local veterans who lost their lives in the Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. The tour will be led by Connie and Duane Strawser and begins about 9:30 a.m.

Pat Nelson, organizer and director of the bridge tour, became involved in honoring local heroes when her own son returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. She was a member of Blue Star Moms, a group of parents of veterans and active soldiers serving the country.

Local Blue Star Moms began a project that would commemorate the lives lost by local soldiers with individual plaques. There are now about 20 plaques total, which are placed on the different bridges visited on the tour.

"We thought there might be an opportunity through local military service organizations to raise funds for (the plaques)," said Nelson. "We wanted to raise community awareness of the plaques that had been dedicated in the '60s and '70s. That was the genesis of it and it's grown since then."

Fun in the sun

Those looking for fun ways to spend their weekend outdoors have plenty of options.

Beginning Saturday, docents at Bridgeport in the South Yuba River State Park will be offering gold panning lessons as well as sharing stories about the history of Nevada County. Gold panning demonstrations will go from noon to 2 p.m. every weekend and holiday through Sept. 3.

Those hoping to camp over the holiday weekend will likely need to look harder than usual to find a spot to pitch their tents. Both Scotts Flat Campground and Long Ravine Campground at Rollins Lake are booked.

Erin Thiem, owner of Inn Town Campground in Nevada City, said her site will be full this weekend as well.

"I think what's great about this holiday weekend is it gets people excited about camping," Thiem said. "The campground is full and we are very excited about having lots of children and families."

As the Strawberry Music Festival takes over the Nevada County Fairgrounds through Monday with performances from artists like the Taj Mahal Trio and Bruce Cockburn, the Gold Country Stage will offer free fare on all of its regular routes today and Saturday.

The free service was implemented to help music lovers access the festival without having to worry about driving and parking, but the complimentary service will be available on all routes.

With the holiday weekend comes heavier traffic throughout the region. The California Highway Patrol is designating the weekend a maximum enforcement period, which will run from 6 p.m. Friday to midnight Monday. Officers will be on heightened alert and will be watching for distracted drivers and those who may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

"It only takes two seconds to buckle up," said CHP Commissioner Warren Stanley. "Wearing a seat belt is such a simple task to keep you and your passengers safe. Remember, it is also the law."

After a rainy Friday, skies are expected to clear just in time for the weekend.

Jennifer Nobles is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at jnobles@theunion.com or 530-477-4231.