By Don Glynn
Niagara Gazette — Niagara's busiest time for visitors — from mid-May to Labor Day — officially starts with two long weekends, Canada's Victoria Day on Monday and the U.S. Memorial Day, May 27.
The traditional influx is expected to fill many hotels, motels and campgrounds on both sides of the border as well as lure thousands of people to the falls and attractions in the surrounding parklands.
Except for a slim chance of a thunder shower, the weekend weather should be pleasant for Canadians enjoying their national holiday that honors Queen Victoria, the long reigning monarch who died in 1901.
The National Weather Service is forecasting a high of 73 degrees today and a low of 52 degrees, with some sun and cloudy periods. It will be similar on Sunday, with the high of 71 and a low of 54. Monday is expected to be partly sunny and warm with a high of 75 degrees. temperatures in the low to mid-70s from Friday through Monday. Sunday's high is predicted at 75 degrees, with a low of 53. On Monday, it will be mostly cloudy with a high of 73.
In the Niagara Falls State Park, sales of the popular Niagara USA Discovery Pass will begin for the season. The pass represents a savings of more than 30 percent on admission to the Cave of the Winds, Maid of the Mist, Niagara Adventure Theater, the Gorge Discovery Center, Aquarium of Niagara, and an all-day ticket to ride the Niagara Scenic Trolley.
Angela Berti, marketing and communication director for the regional state parks commission, said the state park Visitors Center, now open Sunday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday and Saturday until 9 p.m, will extend its hours on Memorial Day weekend from Friday to Sunday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., and on Monday until 7 p.m.
On Friday, the city's official Visitor Information Center, First Street and Rainbow Boulevard, was experiencing an increase in inquiries with Canadians celebrating their long Victoria Day (Monday) weekend.
Michelle Blackley, communications manager for the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation, said, based on previous years, that today and Sunday should be even busier with the cross-border visitors.