Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

July 2, 2014

Lemonade ready to flow as city awaits 90-degree temps

BLUEFIELD — Climate change may be capturing national headlines, but Nature’s Air-Conditioned City appears to be bucking the global warming trend.

It still hasn’t hit 90 degrees in Bluefield this summer — although it came close Tuesday with the mercury climbing to 86 degrees. Bluefield has been serving free lemonade every time the mercury hits 90 degrees since 1939.

In the 75 years that have since passed, Bluefield has only recorded a 90-degree reading 217 times.

But the city is ready — and waiting — for the thermometer to hit 90 degrees this summer, according to Marc Meachum, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Bluefield Chamber of Commerce.

“We are ready to go,” Meachum said Tuesday. “We have already checked with Kwik Cafe to make sure they are on board. And they are ready to go as we are. Interestingly, this is the 75th anniversary of the lemonade promotion. It began in 1939. And probably at Lemonade Days at the ball park in August we are going to do something special for the 75th year.”

Meachum said there have been many summers in Bluefield when the mercury didn’t reach 90. For example, a 90 degree reading wasn’t recorded between 2000 and 2004. But Bluefield hit 90 degrees three time in 2013 and six times in 2012. But the record still stands at 18 days of free lemonade servings in 2007.

The lemonade promotion was started by the late Eddie Steele in 1939.

Initially, Steele, then secretary of the Greater Bluefield Chamber of Commerce, came up with the idea of offering free rooms at the West Virginian Hotel if the local temperature reached the 90-degree mark. Steele scrapped that idea when an Odd Fellows convention was in town and the promotion proved expensive. Steele then came up with the simple idea of serving free lemonade in the city when the mercury climbed above 90 degrees. At about that same time, Steele authored Bluefield’s time-tested slogan, “Nature’s Air-Conditioned City.”

It would be two years before the mercury would actually hit 90 in Bluefield. That was the pre-war summer of 1941. The historic milestone also marked the debut of the city’s Lemonade Lassies, who would pour their first servings of free lemonade across the city. In more recent years, the town of Bluefield, Va., has joined the city of Bluefield in serving free  lemonade when a 90-degree reading is recorded.

– Contact Charles Owens at cowens@bdtonline.com

 

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