Friday, March 14, 2003

Warm (What's that?) sunny (Can't recall) weekend (Let's go!)

Spring-like weather expected

By Kevin Aldridge, The Cincinnati Enquirer
and Gina Holt, Enquirer contributor

[photo] Johnny "Red" McFarlin, the starter at Avon Field golf course in North Avondale, wipes down a golf cart Thursday.
(Gary Landers photo)
| ZOOM |
Sunshine and spring-like warmth Saturday promise to draw Tristate residents from their homes like twin magnets.

After weeks of freezing rain, snow and cold, Greater Cincinnatians are looking forward to two days of temperatures in the mid-60s this weekend, topped with sunny skies Saturday.

Forecasters predict partly sunny skies and a high of 50 degrees today. Saturday will be mostly sunny with a high of 61, and while Sunday's high is predicted at 64, there will be more clouds. Looking for a long weekend? Monday's predicted high is 70, according to AccuWeather.

Workers at outdoor cafes, golf courses, parks and bike trails across the Tristate were bracing Thursday for the cabin-fever crazed droves that are sure to be out enjoying the first taste of spring. While the welcomed warmth probably won't be enough to break out the tank tops and flip-flops, most venues are hustling to add staff and pull out all the stops to make sure they are ready.

Bill Donaldson, an assistant golf pro at Avon Field Golf Course in Avondale, said he becomes like an "octopus behind the counter" on weekends like the upcoming one because of all the phone calls requesting tee times. Course maintenance crews were lining up and cleaning out carts Thursday.

"We are really looking forward to this weekend because all those people who've been locked up inside their homes all these months are going to be out," Donaldson said. "People are just glad to see that the snow is gone.

"We've been working with a skeleton crew the past two months, but we are bringing in all our forces this weekend," he said.

Cindy Jewell, of Burlington, said she plans to take her kids - Nate, 4, and Lydia, four months - to Newport on the Levee Saturday so they can eat outside and enjoy the clowns and magic shows on the plaza. On Sunday she plans to meet her sisters and their kids at a local park.

"The younger kids will play at the playground while the older one hit the Frisbee golf course and the basketball courts," Jewell said.

"I am so excited about the weather we are supposed to have this weekend," she said. "I'm hoping to finally get some use out of my zoo pass."

That's music to the ears of Cincinnati Zoo President Gregg Hudson, who said that groundskeepers have been sweeping and sprucing the park all week in anticipation of big crowds. Hudson said patrons would get a chance to see two new additions - a baby zebra born last Friday and a baby okapi - a giraffe-like animal - born this winter.

"We know people have cabin fever and a lot of pent-up energy, and what better place to enjoy the weather than at the zoo," Hudson said. "We're not at 100 percent yet, but the grounds are beautiful."

Workers at Arthur's restaurant in Hyde Park will do most of their preparation for the weekend rush today, by wiping down outdoor tables and cleaning out the water fountain.

"We know a lot of our customers come for our outdoor garden area because it is very intimate," said Catherine Esterly, a bartender. "Everybody's got a little spring fever. Last Saturday was such a tease."

John Shay, a manager at Bahama Breeze in Springdale, said they too would be opening their patio section, which is enclosed by sliding-glass windows.

"We'll definitely slide those windows back and let the spring breeze come in so our customers can get that island feel going while they dine," Shay said. "There's nothing better than kicking back listening to some Jimmy Buffet and having a Bahamarita."


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