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Memorial Day weekend in CT: What to expect with travel, weather, parades and more

Towns people line the streets during the annual Memorial Day Parade in Naugatuck remembering those who lost their lives while serving in the United States Armed Forces on May 27, 2019 in Naugatuck, Connecticut. Memorial Day has been celebrated since three years after the end of the Civil War to honor the fallen.
Spencer Platt
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People line the streets during the annual Memorial Day Parade in Naugatuck, Connecticut, on May 27, 2019. The parade remembered those who lost their lives while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Memorial Day has been celebrated since three years after the end of the Civil War.

Summer’s unofficial start is expected to bring nice weather to Connecticut and near-record levels of traffic.

About 470,000 Connecticut residents are expected to travel in coming days during Memorial Day weekend, which is the highest number of holiday travelers in nearly 20 years, according to AAA. Nationwide, nearly 44 million people are expected to travel 50 miles or more – a sign many Americans are shedding any reluctance over pandemic-era traveling.

“What really jumps out to me,” said Mark Schieldrop, a AAA Northeast spokesperson, is "we're at pre-pandemic levels now.”

Gas prices are around $3.65 cents a gallon in Connecticut. That’s up about 10 cents from this time last year, according to AAA.

Across the region, about 1.8 million New Englanders are expected to drive to their holiday destinations.

Weekend weather: Dry and quiet, unsettled early next week

Weather is expected to be good for most of Saturday and Sunday, but scattered storms could pop up. Highs in the 70s to mid 80s are expected for much of the region, with temperatures lower along the coast, according to the National Weather Service.

Rain is possible throughout the day Monday and early Tuesday morning. Temperatures will be more seasonable.

See forecast updates from the weather service here and here.

Parades, festivals and events across CT

Towns across Connecticut will be hosting parades, ceremonies and remembrances. Detailed lists featuring town-by-town events are here and here.

Looking for something to do after the parade? Here are a few ideas:

Robin Hood's Medieval Faire presents the Barbarian & Swashbuckler Weekend
May 25-26 (10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.) – 150 Locust Road In Harwinton

CT Vegfest
May 25 (1-10 p.m.) – Bushnell Park, Hartford 

Trans AM Memorial Day Classic
May 24-27 – Lime Rock Park, Lakeville

Memorial Day Open House (Fairfield Museum)
May 27 (10 a.m. – 4 p.m.) – 370 Beach Road, Fairfield 

More events can be found on the Connecticut state tourism website.

CT officials tout beaches and parks as part of tourism push

Officials are encouraging residents and visitors to enjoy Connecticut’s public parks and beaches as the summer tourism season kicks off this Memorial Day weekend.

An added incentive is free admission for vehicles registered in the state, said Mason Trumble with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

“What that means is our parks are more accessible than any other parks in the Northeast,” Trumble said. “So if you work and you are driving home and you happen to pass a Connecticut state park, that means you can pull in and go for a 20-minute jog after work without worrying about paying an entrance fee.”

Gov. Ned Lamont recently visited the beach at Silver Sands State Park in Milford to kick off the season. Connecticut is growing as a tourist destination because the state is investing in its parks, he said.

“There’s a lot of people-per-square mile in this state,” Lamont said. “We’ve got to work very hard to preserve the open space, preserve the parks, and walking trails and forests.”

Outdoor recreation contributes about $4.6 billion a year to the state’s economy, officials said.

The state has launched a new website, ctparks.com, to help visitors better access the state’s 142 parks, campgrounds and designated swimming areas.

Connecticut Public’s Kelsey Hubbard Rollinson, Patrick Skahill and WSHU’s Ebong Udoma contributed to this report.