By KATE COIL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Lemonade will flow in the two Bluefields again today, but if you don’t have time to swing by for a cup today odds are you will have more chances in the next few days.
Marc Meachum, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Bluefield Chamber of Commerce, said Lemonade Lassies and Lads are getting ready for the long haul if temperatures continue to rise as predicted.
“We’ll get a hold of all our locations and Sandy Reynolds who coordinates a lot of the work with our lassies and lads,” Meachum said. “We’re gearing up to get ready to do it tomorrow. We think we’ll be busy in the next few days based on the forecasts we’ve been seeing. Earlier in the week the heat wave wasn’t supposed to hit until Saturday. We are planning accordingly, and we are planning to get things going.”
Lemonade will be served today at Chicory Square and at Cole Harley Davidson in Bluefield and Graham Square and Food City in Bluefield, Va.
Meachum said extra lemonade might be needed today at Chicory Square to appease the crowd attending the Chicory Square Concert series performance featuring Bill Archer and Karl Miller.
“Typically Chicory Square and Graham Square aren’t as busy because of their location, but with the concert tomorrow, we might have to bring some extra,” Meachum said. “The Chicory Square Concert series sponsored by the Daily Telegraph and the Downtown Merchant’s Association will be great for bringing more people down to Chicory Square.”
The heat record for Bluefield is 96 degrees, set back on July 16, 1988. The summer of 2007 presently holds the record for most Lemonade Days in one year with 18.
Officials with the National Weather Service in Blacksburg, Va., said the region has a good chance of reaching the 90-degree mark several times in the next few days as a heat wave settles into the region. Nick Fillo, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said Bluefield has a decent change of hitting 90 every day until Thursday of next week.
“We are predicting 92 for Friday, 93 for Saturday and Sunday, 91 for Monday, and 90 on Tuesday and Wednesday,” Fillo said. “We should be starting to cool off by Thursday. It will be in the lower 90s until next week. We are basically seeing an upper level ridge of high pressure parked across our area. When that happens we have warmer weather. As that upper level ridge builds in it gets a little warmer.”
However, temperatures could go down if any rain creeps into the forecast, Fillo said.
“There isn’t really any rain in the forecast up for the next few days,” he said. “We may get a really weak cold front in the Ohio River Valley, but it doesn’t seem like it will touch our area. We could get a couple of showers Saturday afternoon, but nothing too bad. Our rain chances pick up to about 20 percent on Sunday. There doesn’t seem to be any major system coming through; just things that pop up with afternoon heating. Rain could impact the high for the day. A good thunderstorm coming across the area could knock the temperature down several degrees. If it happens in the earlier part of the day there is still a chance it will warm up again. If it happens later on in the day, there might not be enough time for temperatures to raise back up.”
In addition to ice-cold lemonade, many in the region are hitting up the local pool to stay cool. Greg Quesenberry, recreation director for the town of Bluefield, Va., said the Harmony Acres swimming pool has been close to capacity because of the heat wave.
“The pool attendance has gone up in recent days,” he said. “Today we were almost completely full. We are seeing on average about 300 and 350 people coming in. We had about 350 2 p.m. Thursday, and they are still coming in. We are ready for them. We stay ready for this type of thing. We have been busy pretty much all summer. Everyone likes coming down here to cool off.”
Quesenberry said between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. are usually the busiest times for the pool.
“We usually get a rush of people around 2 p.m. and sometimes we get another rush about 4 p.m.,” Quesenberry said. “From about 2 p.m. on it gets really busy. Since it’s supposed to be hot Friday we might have people lined up around the gate. One day last week we had to close the gate because we reached capacity. The American Red Cross life guard recommendation is one guard for 25 people in the water, and we keep seven guards on hand at all times so we can get in as many people as we can.”
The amount of people coming in to the pool has helped keep admission prices low as well.
“The staff always does a great job down here,” Quesenberry said. “We have been able to keep our prices the same for the past several years now because of how good attendance has been. That allows more families to come down here each year.”
Across the state line in Princeton, pool staffers are seeing similar numbers. Ron Olson, certified pool operator with the Princeton City Pool, said the pool has seen approximately 300 people daily in the past few days, but that number could increase along with the temperature.
“We are at peak season right now,” Olson said. “We are crowded since this is the hottest time of the year. We have about 250 to 300 people here. Capacity is about 500 and we are expecting to get close to that in the coming days. We may have to hire another lifeguard to come in because of how hot it’s getting.”
Olson said the month of July is usually the most active at the city pool.
“The last couple of summers we had a lot of rain and it was unseasonably cool,” Olson said. “This is the hottest weather we’ve had in the last couple of years. The week for the July 4 is when most people come since they’re getting into the swing of summer. For the next month, we will see large numbers at the pool. We have to keep our concession stands stacked to help the crowd and the chlorine goes faster the more people that are in the water.”
The heat is also helping the pool turn a profit, Olson said.
“We are definitely making more of a profit this year,” he said. “We have already made more this year than we did total last year, and we still have a month left. A lot of people have been having parties or cookouts in the park and then come here to swim.”�