- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 26, 2005

The busy holiday weekend that includes a mix of first-time events and traditions such as the annual National Memorial Day Parade gets an early start when President Bush visits the Naval Academy today for graduation ceremonies.

“We are looking at a possibility of about 100,000 cars over the course of the day traveling over the Bay Bridge,” said Trent Kittleman, executive secretary of the Maryland Transportation Authority. “We are urging people to travel early this morning or late tonight.” She also said the traffic Monday from travelers returning from the Eastern Shore and elsewhere should be less intense, but motorists are still advised to drive during off-peak hours.

Area residents staying at home and visitors will have a rare opportunity to see a World War II-era vessel this weekend. The LST-325 Ship Memorial — which transported troops, supplies and equipment onto enemy shores — will be moored at the Alexandria waterfront’s Robinson Terminal through Monday to celebrate the new National World War II Memorial and the 60th anniversary of the end of the war. Tours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children and youths.

On Saturday, the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club of Maryland will host a picnic and benefit jazz concert featuring Washington pianist Marcus Johnson. Tickets are $10 and proceeds will support the Buffalo Soldiers of Maryland Scholarship fund. The event will be from noon to 7 p.m. at the Rosaryville State Park, Route 301, Upper Marlboro.

Club members will ride in a parade Sunday to the African American Civil War Memorial, at 10th and U streets in Northwest, to honor black war heroes who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The riders are expected to arrive at 10:30 a.m.

The Dragon Boat Festival returns Saturday and Sunday to the Thompson Boathouse at Rock Creek Parkway and Virginia Avenue in Northwest. The festival includes an array of cultural exhibits, performances and races featuring teams from Chinese schools, community groups, corporations and law firms.

The holiday weekend will be celebrated in Rockville with an arts festival Saturday and Sunday. The Taste of Rockville festival features activities for children, a free concert by Hootie and the Blowfish and fireworks.

Forecasters say much of the weekend will be a mix of clouds and sun, with temperatures in the mid-70s and a chance of rain Saturday, according to AccuWeather.

Hundreds of thousands of motorcycle riders are expected Sunday in the District for Rolling Thunder XVIII. The mass ride starts at the Pentagon and ends at the Reflecting Pool across from the Lincoln Memorial, where members will honor war veterans and host a musical tribute featuring Nancy Sinatra.

Those who prefer bicycles can see some of the world’s top professional and amateur riders Sunday in Clarendon at the eighth annual CSC Invitational. The one-kilometer course begins and ends at the Clarendon Metro station and can be seen along several stretches of Wilson and Clarendon boulevards. But the real excitement is often around the sharp left from Wilson onto Washington Boulevard. Amateur races begin at 8 a.m., the children’s race starts at 11:35 a.m. and the pro race is scheduled for noon.

Metro riders using the system’s Orange or Blue subway lines to attend weekend events — especially the D.C. United game Saturday at RFK Stadium — should add about 30 minutes into their schedules to compensate for delays due to track maintenance, the transit agency said.

On Sunday evening, the National Memorial Day Concert will be held on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol from 8 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. The concert is free to the public. No tickets are required.

The National Memorial Day Parade on Monday will proceed down Independence Avenue from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. and will include parade balloons, antique cars and 11 bands from seven states. D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams will serve as grand marshal.

“If you bring a child, when that person becomes a grandparent themselves, people will look at them in astonishment because in their lifetime they actually saw someone born in 1899 or they saw someone who served in WWI or made history at Iwo Jima,” said Mackie Christenson, parade coordinator for the World War II Veterans Committee.

Gaithersburg also will have a Memorial Day ceremony, which includes music and a wreath-laying ceremony. The events begin at 11 a.m. at Christman Park, off of West Deer Park Road.

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