Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, honors men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. At 11 a.m. Monday, May 27, American Legion Post 800 holds its annual honor guard ceremony, the emotional centerpiece of the Memorial Day weekend.

The tradition of a solemn spring ceremony began after the American Civil War as a way to honor both Union and Confederate soldiers who died in a war that exacted the greatest toll of any war in which American soldiers served, over 650,000 killed (estimates vary from 628,000 to 750,000). In many American communities, it is common on Memorial Day to visit the graves of relatives, tidy up the gravesites, lay flowers, and if any had served in the Armed Forces, place an American flag on the grave — hence Decoration Day.

Memorial Day traditionally marks the beginning of the summer season that Labor Day concludes.

The Legion also is hosting a barbecue from 3 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 25. Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for children.

In Idyllwild, Memorial Day weekend also has its own tradition — yard sales. The growing popularity of this treasure hunt brings participants from off the Hill throughout the weekend. See the map HERE, also printed in this week’s edition for the times and locations of yard sales. And with Idyllwild Memorial Day Yard sales, the earlier you arrive the more likely you are to find that one thing you could not do without.

Memorial Day weekend always features entertainment and events. This weekend there are two events of note. The Art Alliance of Idyllwild presents a two-day Judged Members Show and Working Artist Tour at the Nature Center and at galleries throughout town. From 9 a.m to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 25, the exhibition of AAI member artists is at the Nature Center. Grab a map at the exhibition and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. tour local galleries to see artists at work. The exhibition at the Nature Center remains open form 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, May 26. At noon, AAI presents a wine and appetizer reception at which artist awards are announced.

Artist Gerry High’s three dimensional wildlife exhibit will also be previewed indoors at the Nature Center with final completion scheduled for end of June.

Also at the Nature Center from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday through Monday, May 25 through 27, is the annual Wildflower and Art Exhibit, with guest speaker Michael Hamilton, director of the Blue Oaks Ranch Reserve. Learn about native wildflowers from a visual representation, eco gardening techniques and how to manage non-native invasive plants. Fees are $3 for adults, $2 for children and $1 for dogs.

Of course, local restaurants ramp up the entertainment to cover the entire weekend. Jo’An’s provides live music in the beer garden from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Arriba’s Mexican Restaurant hosts live music from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 24 and 25. Idyll Awhile Wine Shoppe & Bistro hosts live entertainment on Friday and Saturday, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. and Sunday from 4 to 7 p.m. And the new eatery Mountain Center Café will provide entertainment Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Monday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Check Town Crier ads and the Arts and Entertainment Calendar for entertainment specifics.

Bibliophiles and avid readers might want to check the Friends of the Library’s annual book sale, abbreviated this year with only 30 or 40 boxes of books for sale as opposed to the usual 150 boxes. The sale runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Tables with books will be in front of the library in Strawberry Plaza.