Memorial Day Weekend events to honor veterans on the Suncoast

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SUNCOAST - We are nearing Memorial Day weekend, a holiday known to bring families and friends together to honor our fallen military.

The weekend is also considered by many to be an unofficial kickoff to summer, and there will be plenty to do on the Suncoast.

Memorial Day weekend has already begun on the Suncoast. On the Bayfront, people are already enjoying the start of the holiday weekend, and today we found out what many in the community have planned.

"We're here for memorial weekend and we're here to enjoy the beaches," says Paul Caruso.

"We usually spend time with family and friends and thank those who sacrificed for our country, shout out to my brother back home, Ooh-rah," says Theresa Dorsi.

Reflecting and paying tribute to our fallen military heroes is the main focus this weekend. Many are reflecting on their family members who sacrificed and continue to sacrifice their lives. "Means more to us now that our parents are gone, and actually knowing what they've done for us," says Karen Longcharich.

"We love supporting our troops and we wish they were home with us. My brother is oversees right now, but hopefully he comes home soon," says Kerri Gullick.

From Manatee to Sarasota County, Suncoast communities are coming together to pay tribute.

On Sunday, there will be a remembrance service at the Sarasota National Cemetery. In Lakewood Ranch, they will host their annual "Tribute to Hero's Parade" stepping off on Main Street.

On Monday, downtown Sarasota's Memorial Day Parade will go through Main Street ending at Osprey with a special tribute to World War II veterans.

In South County, Venice will hold a memorial service Monday at Patriots Park at 10 a.m.

"We appreciate all of them and especially the younger guys who are going out into the military as well," says Gradey Waugh.

Local pastors are even doing their part to honor our military. "On Sunday we're going to do a whole tribute in our service," says Joanne Hoehne.

AAA officials are projecting a more than 5 percent increase from 2009, in travel this memorial holiday weekend, with about 32 million traveling away from home.

Of course, safety is a primary concern during this time. From transportation to water related accidents, we urge the community to have a safe holiday weekend.