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LIST: Memorial Day weekend events, activities in central Iowa

As the nation honors and remembers fallen veterans, there are plenty of services, parades and other events to check out in central Iowa.

DES MOINES, Iowa — This Memorial Day weekend, there are plenty of parades, services and other events across central Iowa to remember those who have served the United States.

Originally called Decoration Day, the holiday first began on May 30, 1868, and honored soldiers who died in the American Civil War. It evolved gradually to include all fallen soldiers over the years, even hanging to fall on the final Monday in May rather than a specific date. 

Here's a list of Memorial Day weekend ceremonies and events, as well as other celebrations kicking off summer 2023.

Did we miss something? Email our newsroom with the info and we can add it! 

Honor veterans with these events

Ames Memorial Day Parade

  • When: Monday, May 29 at 10:30 a.m. 
  • Where: City Hall, located at 515 Clark Ave., Ames.

Highland Memory Gardens Memorial Service

  • When: Monday, May 29 from 8:45 a.m.-10 a.m.
  • Where: One NE 60th Avenue, Saylor Township.

Memorial Day Ceremony at the Capitol Complex

  • When: Monday, May 29 at 10 a.m.
  • Where: 1007 E Grand Ave, Des Moines at the Vietnam War Memorial.

Iowa Gold Star Military Museum events

  • When: Monday, May 29 from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Where: 7105 NW 70th Ave, Johnston.

Iowa Veterans Cemetery service

  • When: Monday, May 29 starting at 8:30 a.m.
  • Where: Camp Dodge, located at 34024 Veterans Memorial Drive, Adel.

Fleet Farm taps sounding

  • When: Monday, Monday 29 at 3 p.m.
  • Where: 1300 SE Kettlestone Blvd., Waukee.

Living History Farms Decoration Day

  • When: Saturday, May 27 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. 
  • Where: 11121 Hickman Road, Urbandale.

Kick off summer with these events

Valle Drive-In opening weekend

Grab some popcorn and snuggle up in the backseat: it's opening weekend at the Valle Drive-In. The theater will be playing two movies: The Little Mermaid and Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3. 

  • When: May 26-June 1, gates open at 6:30 p.m.
  • Where: Valle Drive-In, 4074 Hwy F48, Newton.

Heritage Carousel opening weekend

For some old-fashioned fun, head over to the Heritage Carousel for opening weekend. On opening day, there will be hourly prize drawings and sales on merchandise. 

  • When: Saturday, May 27, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Where: Union Park
    • 1801 Pennsylvania Avenue, Des Moines.

Gray's Lake beach opens

As families flock to parks and cemeteries this Memorial Day weekend, Des Moines Parks and Recreation is prepared. Gray's Lake beach and the concession stand will open Saturday. For other information on what's open this weekend, click here

  • When: May 27, 12-6 p.m.
  • Where: Gray's Lake.

See Ceelo Green at Adventureland

Adventureland is kicking off its Summer Concert Series this Saturday with a free performance by Ceelo Green. For added summer fun, the concert coincides with the opening day of the Adventure Bay Waterpark 

  • When: May 27, 6:30 p.m.
  • Where: Adventureland Main Stage.

Hair of the Dog Memorial Day Brunch

Sorry kids, this one is for adults only. This Memorial Day brunch promises to cure your hangover if you partied too hard at your start-of-summer celebrations. Enjoy Smash Park's brunch menu and $3 breakfast cocktails. 

  • When: May 29, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Where: Smash Park, 6625 Coach Light Dr., West Des Moines.

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