For the Buchandermann family, Memorial Day weekend is a "Super Holiday." Like many American families, we honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation... but also a birthday! Kyle's birthday is 27 MAY, so we have made a tradition the past two years of a summer kick-off vacation.
We wanted to celebrate the holiday in New York City, so we quickly started searching for a place to spend the weekend. We also love visiting military bases around the country and are super fortunate to get to stay at the base hotels at an affordable cost (wayyyy lower than anything in NYC). We stayed at an Joint Army-Air Force base in Jersey, which was an awesome experience and just a train ride away to NYC.
On the first day of our Memorial Day / Birthday Extravaganza, we wanted to attend Fleet Week New York. Fleet Week is the opportunity for the public to meet Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen, as well as witness the capabilities of the modern ships, land attack vehicles, and technology they use. With Kyle in his summer whites along with the other sailors, and tons of other Marines and Coasties around, it was a "saluting nightmare," as he calls it, for sure. And keeping those whites clean on the dirty NYC subway was a nightmare in itself! We toured several ships, including the USS Cole (the ship that got attacked near Yemen in 2000). Aside from all of the awesome military gear, our favorite part of the Fleet Week was how they included the kids in the celebration of our country's naval forces.
The next day in NYC, we wanted to go on our own schedule. We did some research on the train to the city, and decided we really wanted to see Wicked on Broadway. Kyle has seen it several times, but I haven't and have always wanted to! I'm obsessed with anything with an evil witch (YES, MALEFICENT!) and loved the Wizard of Oz as a kid, even though we weren't allowed to watch it because my twin brother, Coy, was TERRIFIED! We obviously hadn't bought tickets on such short notice, so we checked into same-day opportunities. We rushed to Manhattan to enter the "ticket lottery," a really neat system in which they sell $30 front-row tickets to 13 lucky people whose names are drawn out of a bin a la Hunger Games reaping! The odds were not ever in our favor for those seats, so we had to hurry and jump our way into the "cancellation line" and see if anyone wasn't going to show up for their seats. After waiting for nearly three hours in total... we got two tickets for the show! The seats were perfect--about 20 feet from the stage, dead center. It was truly a dream come true, and we will always cherish our Wicked memories together.
Elphaba was my favorite, of course
After skipping lunch so we could wait in line all day for tickets, we stuffed our faces at the world famous Carnegie Deli! This place was crazy good, and we are super happy with our colossal Reuben sandwiches (and cheese cake that we got for our train ride back to NJ).
This should be called the Reuben Studdard
Our last stop in NYC was my personal favorite place, China Town! We walked between China Town and Little Italy, scoring a super cute hat for Kyle (Which I will try not to claim for my own...).
On our last day in New England, we spent Memorial Day with Kyle's God-brother Aaron, his wife Marissa, and their kids Kate, Jacob, and Ruby. Aaron's family put together a wonderful St. Louis Cardinals-themed Memorial Day backyard BBQ, with neighbors and "a billion" kids! Marissa even baked Kyle a cake for his birthday! We are so thankful for many new friends, and the opportunity to celebrate with family.
Ruby loves selfies... and her mother's lipstick