LA Fleet Week will return to San Pedro this Memorial Day weekend, with sailors, aerial flyovers, live entertainment — and the always-popular free public tours of active-duty U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships.
Featuring what’s billed as a “massive public expo along the LA Waterfront,” the annual four-day celebration is free and honors the nation’s Sea Services, with activities running from Friday to Monday, May 26-29. The main expo venue, which will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, will be set up alongside the Battleship USS Iowa, at 250 S. Harbor Blvd., near First Street in San Pedro, just south of the Vincent Thomas Bridge.
This year, there will also be events planned throughout the Los Angeles region: a Hollywood “neighborhood activation” event will take place on Wednesday, May 24, and service members will visit several communities throughout the region, including downtown L.A. on Thursday, May 25; Brea on Friday, May 26; and Venice on Saturday, May 27. Those events will feature free band concerts, service projects and other activities.
LA Fleet Week, which officials say is the largest Memorial Day weekend event in Southern California, will feature family-friendly festivities, including live music and entertainment, ship tours, aircraft flyovers and exhibits from the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Army.
“There’s no better place than the Los Angeles area to recognize the importance of our nation’s Sea Services,” Jonathan Williams, president and CEO of the Battleship Iowa Museum and the National Museum of the Surface Navy, said in a Fleet Week news release. “We are a maritime nation and Fleet Week gives us the opportunity to salute all of those who ensure the freedom of the seas.”
Military branches will again compete in Dodgeball (10:30 a.m. Saturday) and Galley Wars (noon Sunday).
An outdoor “Welcome Home” concert for members of the military, featuring Ambrosia, will take place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Saturday at the Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club, 211 W. 22nd St.
The concert space is limited, though, and those attending need to have official passes or active duty military identification for entry. Additional public viewing areas, however, will be available along the waterfront promenade and 22nd Street as space allows.
Ambrosia, a five-time Grammy Award nominee with roots in the South Bay — and, specifically, San Pedro — will perform some of its classic hits, including “Biggest Part of Me,” “Baby Come Back” and “How Much I Feel.”
This is the second year LA Fleet Week is being held over Memorial Day weekend.
The event first launched in 2016 as a Labor Day weekend festivity. It moved to Memorial Day weekend last year to take advantage of the cooler weather. And those cooler temperatures appear to be on tap this year, with forecasts predicting temperatures in the 60s.
Memorial Day also coincides with what was already one of the largest annual holiday events held on the Iowa since the historic World War II battleship’s June 2012 arrival in San Pedro as a floating museum.
Visiting ships are expected to be announced early this week. The tours on board those ships are free and on a first-come, first-serve basis. Once again, the ships will be anchored in San Pedro’s Outer Harbor; trolly service will be the only way visitors can access the site.
This year’s event kicks off a day early, with a preview welcome party in downtown San Pedro from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday, featuring music, food and drinks to welcome visiting sailors and other service members. That event will take place on Sixth Street, between Mesa and Centre streets.
Included in the festivities will be a beer and wine garden, dessert food trucks, live music, swing dancers and a free photo booth. The U.S. Navy Band, will perform, as will Midlife Crisis, a nostalgia band that will finish the evening with favorites from the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.
A Wilmington welcome party is also planned from 5 to 10 p.m . Friday at the Banning Residence Museum in Banning Park, 401 E. M St.
When the event officially opens on Friday, visitors will find military displays, multiple veteran and military information booths, and other family activities at the expo site, along with many local restaurants offering specials throughout the nearby historic downtown San Pedro district.
Visitors are urged to arrive early in the day; parking will be available in and around downtown San Pedro within walking distance of the expo.
Sunset cruises will also be available on the Los Angeles Maritime Institute’s Tall Ships, docked at the Downtown Harbor — off of Harbor Boulevard at Sixth Street. And the Los Angeles Maritime Museum next door to that will also be open so folks can learn more about the harbor’s history.
The U.S. Navy holds Fleet Week events at ports throughout the United States, with Los Angeles’s event coinciding with New York’s on Memorial Day weekend. The events offer residents a chance to tour active-duty ships, talk with sailors and learn more about the Navy.
Due to security and traffic constraints, vehicles will not be permitted to travel past 22nd Street and pedestrians will not be admitted into the ship tour area. They must be brought by shuttle from the expo area.
More information, including daily highlights and more detailed schedules, can be viewed at lafleetweek.com.
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