Balmy weather brings out area residents

February 20, 1997


Staff Writer

New Englanders often flee to the South to escape winter, but to Hagerstown?

"This is south enough," said Greg Paradiso, who left a snow-covered Massachusetts to visit in-laws on Belview Avenue.

"We didn't expect this, but we'll take it. These kids brought their winter coats and they didn't even need them," he said Wednesday.

Playing on a jungle gym in Hagerstown's City Park, Pardiso's children agreed.

"It's fun out here," Caitlin, 9. "It's like summer."

From people working to folks simply playing, Wednesday turned out to be quite a day. The temperature hit 67 degrees, just 2 degrees shy of the record for Feb. 19.


Beth Laffredo, who moved to Highland Way from Rhode Island about a month ago, said she is used to long, cold winters. Used to them, but not happy about them.

"I hope (the warmth) is here to stay," she said. "In Rhode Island, we usually don't get spring weather until late March or early April. This is great."

But not everyone was ecstatic about spring in February.

Boonsboro resident Jim Jones and Christy Benner, who were in City Park for the first time since getting engaged the day after Christmas, disagreed about the matter.

"It's nice, but it's February - it shouldn't be this nice," Jones lamented.

Countered Benner: "It should always be this nice. This is the best weather in the world. I hate the cold. I hate the hot."

Wednesday's weather also made for agreeable outdoor working conditions. Crossing guard Pat Carpenter, who was directing traffic outside Bester Elementary School, said the day breezed by.

"The kids are anxious to get home and play," she said. "The kids are more pleasant, too. The traffic moves faster."

Sharpsburg Pike Sunoco employee Ronnie Reese said he enjoys mild days. But now that he works under the protection of a booth, he said the weather does not matter as much.

"Not like it was in the old days," he said. "We didn't have these canopies. You stood out in the rain and snow."

A sudden upturn in the weather can mean serious business for merchants who rely on the outdoors.

Lee Baihly, who owns River and Trail Outfitters Inc. in Knoxville, Md., said a day like Wednesday would have meant booming sales if it were a weekend.

"If it were a Saturday or a Sunday, this place would be packed," he said.

Baihly said an increasing number of people are buying protective suits for winter paddling. Even when the water is frigid, winter paddling can be exhilarating with the proper protection, he said.

It will take quite an effort to top the record high for February. It was set in 1985: 82 degrees.

"That was an incredible day," Hagerstown weather observer Greg Keefer said.

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