Presidents' Day: Not just for sales and sleeping in

- Lots of people are sleeping in, or furniture shopping on this Presidents’ Day, but that’s not all the holiday was meant for.

If you’re one of those people, it may be worth taking a moment to brush up on the history behind why so many are able to shop, sleep – or enjoy an extra day off - on the third Monday in February each year.

The holiday was originally created to honor the birthday of our first president, George Washington, which fell on February 22. But in the 1960's, congress wanted to expand the holiday to honor the birth of President Abraham Lincoln, who was also born in February.

They ended up changing the name of the holiday to "Presidents’ Day", and moving the date to the third Monday in February. According to, moving it to a Monday gave workers an opportunity to have more three-day weekends, an initiative that was part of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1971.

And on this date back in 1879, President Rutherford B. Hayes contributed greatly to women’s fight for equality in the U.S. Long before women got the right to vote, President Hayes signed a bill allowing female attorneys the right to argue cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

And over the years, many presidential campaigns have made their way to the Tampa Bay area, along with some commanders-in-chief. But there are two incidents, nearly 40 years apart, where a local presidential visit marked a unique and spellbinding moment in history.

The first was on September 11th, 2001. President George W. Bush was visiting an elementary school in Sarasota when an aide suddenly walked in, and whispered was taking place at the World Trade Center.

President Bush's face grew tight and his jaw stiffened, but he stayed in the classroom for a few more minutes before leaving to tend to the crisis.

And 38 years prior, on November 18th, 1963, President John F. Kennedy visited Tampa as well. He was in the area campaigning for the 1964 election. He made three stops and his motorcade went right down what’s now known as Kennedy Boulevard.

The Secret Service was said to be nervous about possible anti-Castro protesters, but their visit to Tampa went off without a hitch.

But then just four days later, after President Kennedy made his way to Dallas, Texas, he was assassinated.

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