Heat wave forces would-be beachgoers inside

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Some residents and visitors choose to stay inside during the oppressive heat wave that swept the North East last week. Some residents and visitors choose to stay inside during the oppressive heat wave that swept the North East last week.

OCEAN CITY — After a weeklong heat wave, mother nature continues to blast the shore with hot temperatures and high humidity, so how do residents and visitors deal with the heat? Drinking lots of water and staying indoors in the air conditioning was the solution for most people this week.

The Gravitron ride in Playland’s Castaway Cove on the boardwalk was forced to close because of the heat, said Playland’s manager Robert McConville. He said the ride can reach temperatures of up to 125 degrees inside during heat waves, which can be dangerous for riders. In his 11 years as manager for Castaway Cove, McConville said less people visit the amusement park during heat waves because the park can get too hot due to lack of shade.

The beach was also ditched this week in favor of air conditioned, indoor activity. A beach tag attendant stationed on 10th Street on the Ocean City Boardwalk, who preferred not to be named, said there were less people on the beach and boardwalk in general this week because of the heat.

People may skip the beach and boardwalk because of the heat, but they are not staying home. The Ocean City Historical Museum had an influx of visitors this week, confirms Jeffery R. McGranahan, executive director of the museum, because of the heat. McGranahan stated the average number of visitors to the museum in a day was about 30, but this week, visitation rose to 60 people a day.

More visitors means more donations for the museum, and even though McGranahan didn’t have an exact figure available at the time of the interview, he said he noticed more money in the donation boxes stationed around the museum.

Still, the Ocean City Library saw the largest increase of visitors so far this season due to inclement weather. The heat drove up participating in the story time program, said assistant library director Leslie Clarke, with 60 people recorded for the 10 a.m. program and 90 people for the 11 a.m. program. The story time programs typically attract 30-65 participants, she said.

However, the heat didn’t scare everyone away from the shore. Priscilla Moore from Hudson, NY said she came down to Ocean City escaping the “oppressive New York heat.” She will be cooling off all weekend at the shore, and said she is thankful for the ocean breeze, which she can’t find back home.

Diane Weiland, tourism director for Cape May County, said Leaming’s Run Gardens in Cape May Courthouse was closed July 18-19 because of the heat wave, but that all beaches and the Cape May County Zoo remained open. She said the zoo’s new snow leopard cubs were given ice during the heat wave in order to stay cool and hydrated.

Designated cooling centers are open at county library branches and senior centers in Lower Cape May, Ocean City, and North Wildwood for anyone seeking reprieve from the heat, according to the Cape May County emergency website.

Among the county emergency website cooling tips are to stay in shaded areas for those who must be outside, and to wear loose fitting light colored clothing and sunscreen. Also, the website states to limit sugary drinks during extreme periods of heat as they tend to speed up dehydration, and to avoid exertion between 1 and 6 p.m., which are the hottest periods of the heat wave.

For emergency weather updates and for more tips to stay cool in the heat, see www.capemaycountyemergency.net/.

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