Bay Island crab house employee Michael Rickell looks at Courtney… (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore…)
Standing over a large tub, Gary Moree sorted crabs and stocked his walk-in cooler Friday at Bay Island Seafood, preparing for the onslaught of Memorial Day weekend customers.
The cooler was stacked to the ceiling with bushels of Maryland and Delaware crabs and boxes of the oversized Louisiana variety. A barrel of Moree's Bay Island seasoning — a secret blend of rock salt, spices and pepper — stood nearby.
"Everyone wants their crabs," said Moree, president of the family owned business that's been a mainstay in Southwest Baltimore since 1952.
Across Maryland, families and friends will mark the official kickoff of summer with events such as the opening of Baltimore's city pools, the 147th annual Westminster Memorial Day Parade in Carroll County and a ceremony honoring lost loved ones at King Memorial Park in Randallstown.
Darrell Burrell of West Baltimore will celebrate the holiday at Lafayette Square with a group of about 50 people for a potluck picnic to honor neighborhood veterans.
"You've got to do something for them," said Burrell, who is pitching in five dozen crabs. "Everybody should be doing something. They're fighting for you and I to walk down the street and feel safe."
Remembering fallen military personnel is at the heart of many weekend events.
At Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens in Timonium, this year's Memorial Day observance is dedicated to Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark A. Mayo, a Marylander who was fatally wounded by an assailant March 24 while serving on the Naval Station Norfolk Security Detachment. His "exceptionally brave actions" are credited by the Navy with saving the lives of four others.
The event includes music, speeches and a wreath-laying ceremony, and begins at 10 a.m. Monday at the Circle of the Immortals, 200 E. Padonia Road.
Westminster's Memorial Day Parade begins at 10 a.m. Monday through downtown, ending at Westminster Cemetery, where a service will follow at 11 a.m.
In Annapolis, the Memorial Day Parade begins downtown at 10 a.m. Monday, followed by a ceremony at Susan Campbell Park featuring state Sen. John C. Astle as the speaker. Astle, an Annapolis resident, retired from the Marine Corps with the rank of colonel in 1996.
A celebration of remembrance is scheduled Monday at King Memorial Park in Randallstown, a final resting place for many in Baltimore's African-American community. The celebration, which is expected to draw thousands, begins at 11:30 a.m. in the New Grant Heritage Chapel.
Erich March, president of King Memorial Park, said all are invited to the decades-old annual celebration, regardless of whether a loved one is buried in the park.
"Every year on Memorial Day, hundreds of families come to the cemetery and lay flowers," March said. "We have a service of remembrance that is highlighted by a military salute by the Buffalo Soldiers and an inspirational message.
"It is synonymous with 'gone but not forgotten.'"
The park, established in 1973, sits on 155 acres at 8710 Dogwood Road in Baltimore County.
Memorial Day weekend also marks the opening of pools around the region.
Pools in Baltimore open Saturday at noon. A kickoff event is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the Druid Hill Park pool. Admission is free for splash pads, $1 for walk-to pools and $2 for park pools.
City pools will be open weekends only through June 23, when all pools will open seven days a week through Sept. 1. Weekend hours are noon to 7 p.m. Saturdays and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays.
"This is one of the most exciting times of year for many Baltimore residents, especially our young people," Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said.
The mayor noted the city's efforts to increase staffing at the pools and offer more summer activities, including "Dive 'n Movies" at Druid Hill Park, free friends and family day, early bird swimming, a kayak roll clinic and swim meets.
Nearly 330,000 people visited city pools last summer, up from 121,000 in 2012. The city has 21 pool sites and 38 recreation centers.
Baltimore Sun reporter Pamela Wood contributed to this article.