OLD-GloryBy Jann Wiswall

Did you know that the official birthplace of Memorial Day is Waterloo, N.Y., in the Finger Lakes region?

According to History.com, Waterloo first celebrated the day — then known as Decoration Day — on May 5, 1866, with a community-wide event during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers who died during the Civil War with flowers and flags. The annual event quickly spread throughout the nation as communities held their own memorial gatherings. In 1971, Memorial Day became an official federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May to honor soldiers who died during all U.S. conflicts.

Unofficially, at least, Memorial Day also represents the first official weekend of summer. And, according to some, it marks the season when it’s OK to wear white pants and shoes again — but only through Labor Day weekend!

There are numerous events and activities going on this Memorial Day weekend in Cattaraugus County that will keep you busy, whether you want to honor those who’ve given their lives for the nation, celebrate the balmier weather or both.

Ellicottville American Legion Post 659 is hosting a Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony on Monday, May 27. The Parade forms at 10:30 a.m. at the old Fire Hall on Mill St. and marches down Washington St.  to the Town Hall, where the Legion will hold a Service of Remembrance at 11 a.m. An open house and cookout follows at the American Legion building at 6500 Maples Road. Ellicottville Memorial Library’s Memorial Day Book Sale begins on Saturday, May 25 and continues through mid-June.

Holiday Valley, of course, is a great place to be this weekend. The three-pool complex will be open on Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 11 a.m.–7 p.m., weather permitting. The Double Black Diamond golf course, Sky High Adventure Park, Mountain Coaster, Falling Waters Spa, bike trails and other summer amenities all are open and ready for your enjoyment as well. For complete information, visit www.holidayvalley.com or call (716) 699-2345.

The 2013 Memorial Day Late Model Special will be held at Little Valley Speedway (Cattaraugus County Fairgrounds, 501 Erie St., Little Valley, NY 14755) on Sunday from 6:30–11 p.m. Races include Super Late Model, BRP Can Am Series Tour, UEMS E Mods and Street Stocks. For information, call (716) 938-9146.

Little Valley Riders Club is holding its annual Memorial Day Trail Ride Weekend from Friday through Monday. Bring your horse and enjoy the company of other equine enthusiasts. Pre-registration required. Trail rides will be offered both Saturday and Sunday. For details, visit www.LittleValleyRidersClub.webs.com or call (716) 440-0175.

Also for horse lovers, the Nash Hill Equestrian Center at 10999 Persia Rd, Gowanda, has two events scheduled for this weekend. On Saturday, there is an Open Horse Show, and on Sunday, there’s the AQHA All Breed Trail Challenge. For information, call (716) 257-5257.

The Village of Ellicottville is holding a village-wide Lawn Sale on Saturday, May 25. Some residents will set up sales on their properties. Others will have tables on the lawn in front of the Town/Village Hall. Times vary.

The Town of Allegany is holding its annual community-wide Garage Sale event on Saturday and Sunday. Garage sales will be set up throughout the town from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. both days.

The Cattaraugus County SPCA is holding its annual benefit on Saturday from  noon to 7 p.m. at the St. Stephens Club, 1117 N. Union St., Olean. The event will include music, an Adopt-a-Thon (noon to 4 p.m.) and a spaghetti dinner (4–7 p.m.). All proceeds benefit your local SPCA. For more information, call (716) 307-8937.

On Monday, motorcycle riders can participate in the 15th Annual Ride to Remember, sponsored by Gowanda Harley-Davidson (GHD). The event is hosted by retired GHD president and Vietnam veteran John M. Reid. The ride lines up at the Gowanda American Legion with kickstands up around 9:15 a.m. Breakfast will be served beginning at 7 a.m. For more information, call (716) 532-4584.

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