In honor of Memorial Day, volunteers from Boy Scout, Girl...

In honor of Memorial Day, volunteers from Boy Scout, Girl Scout and Cub Scout troops are expected to place American flags on the graves of veterans on Saturday at Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale, above, and Calverton National Cemetery. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

Summer on Long Island gets its unofficial kick-off this weekend with plenty of sunshine, the opening of beaches and pools, fireworks, parades and frequent opportunities to remember the nation's fallen heroes.

Beaches across Long Island, New York City and much of the state open for the season Saturday and will remain that way through early to mid-September.

And based on recent years, expect big crowds.

Last year, more than 538,000 people visited the eight lifeguard-protected state parks over the Memorial Day weekend — more than double the 234,605 that visited the year before, according to George Gorman, regional director of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. 

Those numbers include the huge crowds predicted at the highly popular Bethpage Air Show, which returns to Jones Beach State Park on Saturday and Sunday.

And while the weather will cooperate with Long Islanders, keeping the rain away this Memorial Day weekend, a sweatshirt may come in handy at the air show.

Daytime temperatures are forecast to top out in the low 70s this weekend, while dropping to the low-to-mid 50s in the evening, according to the National Weather Service in Upton.

There will also be plenty of opportunities to get out and enjoy the sun, while also paying tribute to veterans who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Nassau and Suffolk counties will host Islandwide moments of silence at noon and 6 p.m. on Memorial Day to honor fallen veterans, with fire, police and ambulances sounding their sirens simultaneously to remind residents to stand quietly at attention for nearly a minute, officials said. Nassau launched a similar countywide initiative last year.

"It takes a special kind of person to lay down their lives for our nation," Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said Monday. "As Americans, it is our responsibility to commemorate and cherish the sacrifices that these men and women have made for our nation. We owe them a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid.”

Meanwhile, thousands of volunteers from Boy Scout, Girl Scout and Cub Scout troops from all corners of the region are expected to again place American flags on the graves of veterans on Saturday at both Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale and Calverton National Cemetery. The traditional Memorial Day cemetery ceremonies will take place on Sunday in Farmingdale and Monday at Calverton.

More than two dozen Long Island towns, cities and villages will honor the sacrifice of veterans with parades throughout the three-day weekend, including in Island Park on Saturday and the Village of Hempstead on Sunday, which is hosting its 138th annual event.

Memorial Day on Monday will feature parades from western Nassau to eastern Suffolk, including in Bay Shore-Brightwaters, Bethpage, East Meadow, Elwood/Commack, Farmingdale, Freeport, Levittown, Lindenhurst, Little Neck-Douglaston, Long Beach, Malverne, Massapequa, Mastic, Merrick, Mineola, Northport, Oyster Bay, Plainview, Sayville, Smithtown, St. James, Wantagh, West Islip and Woodmere.

If lighting up the sky is more your thing, the Town of North Hempstead will host its annual Memorial Day Commemoration and Fireworks Extravaganza at North Hempstead Beach Park on Saturday beginning at 6:30 p.m. The free event — parking is $10 but free for active duty military and veterans — features live music and food trucks.

"I urge all who attend to take the opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices made by these brave men and women for our country," said Town Supervisor Jennifer DeSena.

There are also plenty of choices to keep the little ones busy this weekend.

Carnivals, street fairs and food truck festivals are planned for Deer Park, Glen Cove, Huntington, Levittown, Patchogue and Ronkonkoma, while Splish Splash water park in Calverton opens for the season Saturday.

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