Unseasonably hot weather yesterday came close but eventually failed to put a damper on festivities in downtown Toledo - the traditional Taste of the Town and Rally by the River.
Attendance steadily grew from a couple of dozen in the late afternoon when the heat was hardly bearable to the estimated 2,000 split about evenly between the two events in the evening.
"I am a retired Sylvania Township fireman, and I am used to heat," said George Milliere, 70, who lives in the city of Sylvania. "We come here every year for this."
Mr. Milliere, with his head bare, sat in the sun next to his wife, Judy, along Jackson Street during the food festival sipping beer, and helping himself to cabbage and pierogi.
Most people at the time walked from one vendor's tent to the next, choosing food to sample. Some tried to stay in the shade produced by the tents and nearby trees.
"The heat puts a bit of a damper on it It kind of makes you want to throw a bunch of water down the hatch," said Ayla Shaween, 20, of Phoenix, who was visiting her parents in Toledo. "I should've worn a white T-shirt [instead of a black one]," she lamented.
While morning cloud cover kept Toledo temperatures from passing the 90-degree mark for a third straight day yesterday, the sun that broke through in the afternoon quickly pushed the mercury into the upper 80s. Highs of 88 were reported at both Toledo Express Airport and Metcalf Field.
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Toledo temperatures typically range between the mid 50s and upper 70s this time of year. Daily averages at Express have been higher than that for 11 straight days, and the National Weather Service in Cleveland reported that, as a whole, May was 3.4 degrees warmer than average here.
Hot weather will continue today, the weather service said, with a high around 90 and a chance of afternoon showers and thunderstorms. Patchy, dense fog was expected this morning.
Hannah Hill, 2 months old, slept shielded from yesterday afternoon's scorching sun in a zipped-up stroller pushed by her father, Gary Hill, 33, a master electrical specialist for one of Toledo's Home Depot stores.
"We're suffering from heat [but] we wanted to see what [there is] here for food and to check out the bands," Mr. Hill said. He was speaking for himself and his wife, Jill, who was nearby, he said.
Besides the Hills and Ms. Shaween, several dozen people braved the heat at the Taste of the Town near the Government Center about 5 p.m.
At Promenade Park along the Maumee River, only vendors preparing to serve food at the Rally by the River could be seen there at the time. Attendance began to pick up about half an hour later as the heat started to subside gradually, with the sun getting lower, scattered clouds moving in, and a breeze picking up.
"It's not so hot now with this awesome breeze" off the river, said Sandra Howard, an Oregon homemaker who said she came to the park despite the heat to hear singer-songwriter Pat Dailey and to "support downtown Toledo."
Ms. Howard sat on a park bench in the shade, while others sought out shady spots on the lawn to set up folding chairs.
"We came here early so we could get under a tree before the crowd gets here," said Thelma Huntley, 86, a retired Toledo day-care mother for the city welfare and children services.
"I just wanted to be out of the house and with the rest of the people," she said. Next to her was her husband, Charles Huntley, 82, a retired presser for Libbey-Owens-Ford.
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