Almost like July near Christmas

Locals, visitors enjoying the area's 70-degree days

November 22, 2003|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,SUN STAFF

Never mind Christmas in July - this weather makes it seem almost like July near Christmas.

Workers stringing lights on Annapolis' 25-foot Christmas tree yesterday marveled at the 70-degree temperatures. Mariners who delayed winterizing boats cheered procrastination as they set sail under sunny skies. Business people rolled up their sleeves and enjoyed leisurely outdoor lunches.

Even Salvation Army bell-ringers, whose first day of the season was yesterday, licked ice cream cones as they collected donations.

Despite a calendar that notes Thanksgiving is next week, the springlike weather is expected to continue through the weekend, forecasters say. The high today and tomorrow is expected to be 70 with at least partly sunny skies, according to the National Weather Service.

Enjoy it. The weekend is sandwiched between a week of rainy, windy weather that spurred flooding and what some are predicting will be a bitterly cold winter.

"Go upstairs right now, drag out your Christmas decorations and put them up," advised Scott Daly of Homestead Gardens as he prepared the oversize ornaments for the Annapolis tree. "Ignore the rule of waiting till after Thanksgiving, because who knows what next weekend will be like?"

Yesterday's unseasonably warm afternoon made for a bizarre mishmash of winter coats and short-sleeved shirts, air-conditioned office buildings and restaurants serving hot soup, and tank-top clad roller skaters and mitten-clad snowman decorations. The high in Baltimore was 71; the record for that date is 79, set in 1900.

Robin Brashears, a manager at Ventnor Marine Service in Pasadena, said she couldn't recall the 130-slip marina ever being this busy in late November.

"The phones have been ringing off the hook and our fueling station has been buzzing all day," she said. "I thought, `What is this, July?' "

Many Baltimore golf courses are booked through the weekend.

"Golfers might as well get it in while it's nice," said Mark Paolini, head golf professional at Clifton Park Municipal Golf Course in Northeast Baltimore. "Soon it won't be this nice, especially if you go by last year."

At Baltimore's Inner Harbor yesterday, local residents and tourists listened to musicians, ate outside or walked along the water pushing their children in strollers.

"It doesn't feel like November," said flight attendant Jose Cejas, 27, as he dined outside with two co-workers from Houston at Capital City Brewery. "I'm supposed to see my breath."

Paul Macek, who lives in Johannesburg, also marveled at the weather last night as he sat on a bench enjoying a cup of fat-free butter pecan ice cream.

"It's funny because in South Africa it's summer there, and I brought all my winter clothes expecting it to be winter here," said Macek, 36, who works for Catholic Relief Services. "It's not as warm as South Africa, but it's pretty close."

At Lake Kittamaqundi in the center of Columbia, three boys on skateboards whipped along the paved pathways circling the water as a team of teen-age runners, dressed in shorts and T-shirts, rushed in the opposite direction.

Tucked in an out-of-the-way nook, a young pair of sweethearts seemed to be enjoying the warm weather more than everyone else. Keysha Mitchell, 17, and Kevin Thomas, 20, sat entwined on a bench, looking out over the lake's placid waters.

"I wanted to come out here a long time ago," said Thomas, who lives in Randallstown. "But the weather was too cold."

Evergreen-trimmed red lanterns lining a park in Westminster seemed incongruous with the sunshine-flooded playground equipment.

"It's so beautiful, so warm," said Kathy Green of Westminster as her toddlers played nearby.

Back in Annapolis, two Texas residents visiting their son and his family sat at City Dock in short sleeves, regretting their decision to cram big coats and warm clothes into their suitcases.

"I guess we brought the warm weather from Houston," said Suzanne Geniuk.

"Minus the humidity," added her husband, Steve.

The repetitive clanging of the Salvation Army bell that heralds the holiday season underscored the calendar's conflict with the thermometer.

On Annapolis' Main Street, volunteer Charles McDonald ate an ice cream cone as his 13-year-old grandson took a turn urging people to give to charity.

"When it's cold, people don't even want to stop to reach in their pocket for a coin," said McDonald, who has worked Salvation Army kettles since 1994. "This kind of weather puts people in a generous mood."

Sun staff writers Tricia Bishop, Sheridan Lyons and Laurie Willis contributed to this article.

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