Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer, translates into a quick get-away for many people in San Francisco. If you’re staying put, though, here’s a guide to special ceremonies and events in town. To honor the original intent of Memorial Day, attend a program that pays tribute to Americans who died while serving in the military. In 2012, the holiday weekend coincides with a once-in-a-lifetime occasion--which, as you'll see in our guide to the Golden Gate Bridge 75th anniversary celebration, is reason enough to stick around San Francisco. And there's the always effervescent San Francisco Carnaval.
Treasure Island Flea
May 26 & 27, at 10 am–4 pm
An open-air flea market (that refuses to put “market” in its name) of Bay Area producers, artisans and vendors offering new and vintage clothing and accessories, antiques, specialty foods, home décor items and other miscellany. Live music.
At Avenue of the Palms, Treasure Island. Admission free-$3. Free parking.
San Francisco Carnaval
May 26 & 27, at 10 am-6 pm
The two-day explosion of Latin American and Caribbean cultures includes dancing galore (samba, merengue, calypso and cumbia, to name just a few varieties), salsa lessons and contests, drumming, music and food. On May 27, the perennially popular Carnaval Grand Parade takes off at 9:30 am from 24th and Bryant and prances west to Mission Street, then to 17th Street, and then east to the festival area.
On Harrison between 16th and 23rd streets. Free.
USS San Francisco Memorial Ceremony
May 27, at 12 pm
Wreath laying, remarks by military leaders, a bell ceremony, benediction and taps. Featured speaker is Nigel Warren, consul general of Australia.
The cruiser USS San Francisco was built at the Mare Island naval shipyard and launched in 1933. It was in nearly every Pacific battle from when the US entered World War II until the war ended. The USS San Francisco Memorial, consisting of a shell-ridden section of the ship’s bridge, overlooks the Pacific. Memorial Day observances have been held at its site since 1950.
At the USS San Francisco Memorial Park at Lands End, off Camino del Mar in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Free.
Lost Boat Memorial Day Ceremony
May 28, at 10 am
Submarine veterans commemorate submariners who were lost at sea. A bell will toll 52 times, once for each US submarine lost during World War II, and the fate of its crew is read aloud.
On the USS Pampanito, Pier 45 along Fisherman’s Wharf, at Taylor St. and The Embarcadero. Info or RSVPs: (415) 775-1943 ext. 13.
Presidio Memorial Day Commemoration
May 28, at 10:30 am
San Francisco’s biggest Memorial Day observance. The 191st U.S. Army Band leads a parade from the Main Post (near Lincoln and Sheridan streets) to San Francisco National Cemetery. There, a formal ceremony (11 am-12 noon) includes a color guard, music, remarks by military and civilian dignitaries and a 21-gun salute. The National Park Service then leads 30-minute tours of the cemetery. An inter-faith service in the nearby Presidio Chapel begins at 12:30 pm.
The cemetery in the Presidio is an official National Historic Landmark District. It contains the graves of more than 35,000 veterans and their family members, dating back to the 1846 war with Mexico.
At the Presidio. Free shuttle service from parking areas around the Main Post to National Cemetery. Free. Info: (415) 561-5418.