The drought between three-day weekends is over.
Year in and year out, the three-and-a-half months between Presidents’ Day and Memorial Day is the longest gap between federal holidays on the calendar. And it only seemed longer this year as the pandemic outlook improved and the ability to take a real vacation became more realistic.
It couldn’t have come at a better time.
Memorial Day honors the men and women who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. But the holiday also marks the unofficial start to summer.
According to AAA, about 37 million Americans will be hitting the road this weekend, and it’s likely that a few of them will run into trouble on the road — especially if their car has been sitting idle for a while.
When the engine light comes on, you’re going to want to pull over and call AAA for some help. But who does AAA call when they need an assist in Tallahassee? They have Karen Morgan and Heather Drake as well as Chris Dudley, Paul Mitchell, Clark Smith and Monte Stevens of The Southern Group on speed dial.
Those who do travel by car this weekend should prep themselves for a big bill at the pump. The national average cost per gallon is $3.03 — the highest Memorial Day weekend price since 2014.
That might not be a big deal for the Prius crowd, but if you’re planning to cruise in a Suburban, well, you might want to consider looking for a last-minute flight. You’ll have to wear a mask, but you could save a few bucks and get to your destination quicker.
American Airlines and Delta are two of the best airlines in the business, and they’ve got some of the best lobbyists in Tallahassee representing them in the Capitol.
Delta Air Lines’ Tallahassee flight crew includes Nick Iarossi, Ron LaFace, Andrew Ketchel, and Chris Schoonover of Capital City Consulting. American Airlines has Jeff Johnston, Amanda Stewart and Anita Berry of Johnston & Stewart Government Strategies in the jump seat.
If you want an alternative from the major carriers, Southwest Airlines is always a safe bet. They’re represented by Bill Rubin, Heather Turnbull, Melissa Akeson and Christopher Finkbeiner of Rubin Turnbull & Associates.
Airports are bustling with travelers again. Not just the big hubs, either. Travel rates are so high that Pensacola International Airport might need to get a second terminal. Credit vaccines — and a healthy dose of pent-up demand — for making it possible.
Heading into the weekend, nearly 8.2 million Floridians were fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. Many of them received the Pfizer vaccine, which was the first one to hit the market.
When Pfizer is working on life-saving drugs and vaccines, the last thing they need to worry about is what’s going on in the Florida Legislature. That’s why they’ve hired the team at Johnson & Blanton to handle it on their behalf. J&B is one of the top firms for health care and pharmaceutical lobbying — and one of the top firms overall, actually. In addition to named partners Jon Johnson and Travis Blanton, the pharma company has Darrick McGhee on retainer. They’ve also got in-house lobbyist Amy Christian on the ground in Tallahassee.
Wherever you land, you’re going to need some accommodations. When it comes hotels, Wyndham and Marriott are the biggest brands out there.
Wyndham has Dean Cannon, Chris Carmody, Christopher Dawson, Katie Flury, Robert Stuart and Jason Unger of GrayRobinson on retainer. Marriott has Al Cardenas, Slater Bayliss, Stephen Shiver, Sarah Suskey, and Jeffrey Woodburn of The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners as well as Angela Bonds, Pete Dunbar, Martha Edenfield, Chris Moya and Jennifer Ungru of Dean Mead.
If you’re looking for something homier, an Airbnb might be a better … so long as you aren’t trying to throw a rave. Airbnb hosts have listings all over the state — whether you’re looking for an apartment in the heart of downtown or cozy cabin by the lake, you’re sure to find the right fit.
The vacation rental company has the team at The Southern Group on tap, as well as Robert Hawken of Leath Consulting; and Lori Killinger and Chris Lyon of Lewis Longman & Walker.
If you have some time for comparison shopping, maybe check out VRBO and HomeAway. Both companies booked Jennifer Green and Melanie Bostick of Liberty Partners for their lobbying needs.
How you travel and where you stay are important, but make sure you plan something fun to do as well.
Perhaps a trip to Disney is in order. The park is in the middle of a successful rebound from the pandemic. The company recently loosened up their mask rules, employees are flocking back to their jobs, and Disney CEO Robert Chapek recently said he expects the parks to be near full capacity by the end of the year. That’s all great news, but it pales in comparison to Disney’s recent announcement that Watermelon Dole Whip is back!
Disney, of course, is among the biggest tourist draws in the state. With that comes one of the biggest lobbying teams in the state — a whopping 38 lobbyists represent the company in Tallahassee. Firms in their corner include Colodny Fass, Dean Mead, GrayRobinson, Hopping Green & Sams, Metz Husband & Daughton, The Advocacy Group, The Southern Group. They also have an in-house crew that includes Leticia Adams, Adam Babington, Jose Luis Gonzalez, Rena Langely, Adrianna Sekula.
If a concert or show is more your style, check out the listings on Live Nation Entertainment. As the world’s leading live entertainment company, it brings more than 40,000 shows to the stage every year. All that planning leaves little room for lobbying, so they look to Matt Blair of Corcoran Partners for a helping hand.
A long weekend means you’re clear to crack a beer. No matter what your favorite brew is, chances are Gold Coast Brewing sells it. Gold Coast is the largest beer distributor in the state and one of the largest in the country, with over 150 brands in its catalog. When Gold Coast needs help in the Legislature, it relies on the powerhouse trio of Ron Book, Rana Brown and Kelly Mallette.
Whatever you do this weekend, take a moment to remember the real reason for Memorial Day.
Originally called “Decoration Day,” the holiday was borne out of the Civil War and the desire to honor those people who died in service of the United States.
The original intent, as described in 1868 by General John Logan, was for “strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”
New York was the first state to officially recognize the holiday in 1873, but it took another century before a 1967 federal law cemented its place on the calendar as the last Monday in May.
While the holiday commemorates those who have died in service to the country, it’s still fair to give a shout out to the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion, both of which rely on Bill Helmich of Helmich Consulting for their lobbying needs.