Memorial Day Weekend
Memorial Day Weekend is a holiday weekend centered around Memorial Day, which takes place on the last Monday in May. The holiday was established after the Civil War to recognize fallen soldiers. In the South, it was known as Decoration Day, took place on May 30 and memorialized Confederate dead.
Memorial Day was moved to the last Monday in May as part of the Uniform Holidays Bill of 1968. The Monday closure of schools and many workplaces created a three-day weekend during which many Americans travel and take vacations. For beach communities like Pensacola Beach, Memorial Day Weekend effectively marks the beginning of the summer tourism season.
Since the mid-1980s, a number of gay and lesbian organizations in the South have gathered in Pensacola during Memorial Day Weekend for parties and other events. Promoter Johnny Chisholm has organized many of these circuit parties since 1993, when festivities were located in the Pensacola Civic Center.
In 2004, the gay and lesbian events drew as many as 60,000 visitors per year. Later that year, Hurricane Ivan damaged the businesses and infrastructure on Pensacola Beach, causing a tourism decline in subsequent years, but by 2007 an estimated 50,000 tourists arrived for Memorial Day Weekend.
- Gays Flock to Fla. Panhandle for Holiday. Associated Press, May 27, 2007.
- "Hotels filling fast for holiday weekend." Pensacola News Journal, May 24, 2007.