'American Idol' winner to give Memorial Day show in Myrtle Beach
An "American Idol" winner will perform in Myrtle Beach during Memorial Day weekend as part of a series of events to honor veterans.
Jordin Sparks, winner of the sixth season of "American Idol", will headline a May 29 concert that will also include Disney channel musicians Mitchel Musso, Jasmine Richards and Savannah Outen. The concerts will take place on the former site of Myrtle Square mall.
"If you're 13 years of age or younger, there's no place you'd rather be," Brant Branham, chairman of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce's board of directors, said when announcing the event Monday.
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Related events for Memorial Day include a parade down Ocean Boulevard and fireworks. All events will be free.
The Memorial Day concert is the last of four events to be announced for May, including a Christian music festival May 22, a beach music festival May 15, and an arts and film festival May 1. The chamber organized the events aiming to attract more visitors for the month. Tourism slumped last May after the city took steps to limit the bike rallies that regularly take place that month.
The May events will attract the more family friendly tourists that the city wants, Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes has said. "As far as trying to fill the gap with the numbers that the bikers brought in, I don't think that's a reality," he said last week.
Branham echoed Rhodes in saying the Memorial Day weekend event would be more in line with the holiday, which is intended to engender respect for servicemen and women - an intention that has been lost in the past when the weekend was dominated by bikers, he said.
"For the last several years on Memorial Day, Myrtle Beach has not been a family destination, and I don't think the word respect would be what would be discussed most," Branham said.
Branham referencedthe founding of Memorial Day in the late 1860s, reading a section of the original proclamation when announcing the event. The concert and parade will be the way Myrtle Beach chooses to celebrate, he said.
In addition to honoring local veterans, a bus of wounded veterans will travel from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., to participate in the parade, said Christina Shealy, founder of nonprofit Scents for Soldiers.
"They seem to do much better when they get out of the hospital and forget for a moment that they're a patient," she said. "They're very excited and they're already practicing their wave hand."