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.
It couldn’t have come at a better time.
There have been three — three — Special Sessions since state employees and those in The Process have had a guaranteed day off. Thankfully, the most recent one had good enough manners to adjourn ahead of the weekend.
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.
For many people, that means it’s time to start thinking about a vacation.
According to AAA, more than 39 million Americans are hitting the road for the long weekend. That’s a few million short of 2019 numbers but it’s still an 8.3% increase from last year and about on par with 2017.
To the surprise of few, Orlando took the top spot on The Auto Club Group’s list of most popular vacation destinations. Miami also got a shoutout, placing No. 3. In 2019 it didn’t even make the list.
With so many people traveling to Florida, there’s little doubt some will need to call AAA. But AAA needs assistance sometimes, too. When they do, they turn to the in-house lobbyists Karen Morgan and Heather Drake as well as contract lobbyists Paul Mitchell, Clark Smith and Monte Stevens of The Southern Group.
Many of the tourists won’t be driving, however. As tourism continues its rebound, the Orlando and Miami airports are expecting a lot of foot traffic. More people means longer lines … unless you sign up for CLEAR.
The service allows air travelers to keep their driver licenses in their pocket and get to the gate faster. According to the company, CLEAR verifications have increased by more than 85% at MCO and more than 200% at both MIA and FLL so far this year over 2019. It’s clear that CLEAR is getting the word out on its service, and it has the team at Mercury to thank for that.
Those traveling into MIA, are likely to be flying with American Airlines. By many measures — fleet size, passengers carried, and revenue passenger miles — the company ranks as the largest airline in the world. It relies on Jeff Johnston, Amanda Stewart and Anita Berry to bring its priorities in for a landing in the capital.
If any airline has the chops to challenge American, it’s Delta. The company ranks No. 1 in most financial metrics, including overall revenue, profits, assets and market cap. And while its closest hub is in Atlanta, it still sends plenty of traffic to Florida. Its jump crew includes Nick Iarossi, Ron LaFace, Maicel Green, Andrew Ketchel, Jared Rosenstein and Chris Schoonover of Capital City Consulting.
Those vacationers arrive in the City Beautiful, a trip to the “happiest place on earth” is sure to be a top priority.
When Disney needs something handled — and they have more than ever in recent months — it turns to its stable of nearly 40 lobbyists, many of them from high-powered firms such as The Southern Group, GrayRobinson, Metz Husband & Daughton and The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners.
If a visit to the House of Mouse isn’t in the cards, perhaps a trip to Universal Studios is. Their list of advocates includes Brett Bacot, Jim Magill, Kimberly McGlynn of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney as well as Will McKinley, Angela Dempsey, Fred Dickinson, Erik Kirk and Sophie Smith of PooleMcKinley.
For the drivers out there, perhaps a rental is in order. Even though gas prices are through the roof, AAA says daily rates are down 16% from a year ago. Some of the top options are Avis Budget, which is represented by Metz Husband & Daughton, and Enterprise, which is represented by Jonathan Kilman and Brad Nail of Converge Public Strategies.
For those looking to book online, there are countless websites that claim to offer the best deals. When it comes to Expedia, there’s some merit there — that’s probably why it’s one of the most-visited sites worldwide. When the travel booking site needs some help in Florida, it turns to in-house lobbyist Paul Seago as well as Jennifer Green, Adam Potts and Timothy Parson of Liberty Partners of Tallahassee.
No matter the end destination, you’ll need a place to stay. When it comes hotels, Marriott is one of the biggest brands out there. They rely on Al Cardenas, Slater Bayliss, Stephen Shiver, Sarah Suskey and Jeffrey Woodburn of The Advocacy Group as well as Marc Dunbar, Pete Dunbar, Martha Edenfield, Chris Moya and Jennifer Ungru of Dean Mead.
If you want to spend the long weekend planning a getaway where everything is taken care of, then maybe cruising is for you. Florida is home to the top three busiest cruise ports in the world, so chances are you’ll be able to book a voyage at the drop of a hat.
Since the industry has such a big economic impact on the Sunshine State, it’s no wonder Cruise Lines International Association, the world’s largest cruise industry trade association, have Brian Ballard, Brad Burleson and Katherine San Pedro of Ballard Partners on retainer. Carnival, the largest cruise line in the world, also has a Top-10 firm in its corner. It’s represented by Bill Rubin, Heather Turnbull, Melissa Akeson,Chris Finkbeiner and Matthew Sacco of Rubin Turnbull & Associates.
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.