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SUN MAKES FOR A MEMORABLE MEMORIAL DAY IN WNY

The Memorial Day holiday saw a warm, summer-like sun tempered by a cool breeze, the perfect combination for doing just about anything outside.

Spirits ran high at area parks, such as Prospect Park in Niagara Falls and Krull County Park in Olcott, where people spent the holiday sunbathing and enjoying the weather.

"They're all in good spirits," said Matt Shumate, an ice cream vendor at the Niagara Falls park. He said on a day like Monday he might sell as many as 900 ice-cream bars and Popsicles.

The park around the Falls had begun to fill by midmorning.

"Usually about 2 or 3 o'clock you get a mad rush," said Sarah Husanian, a parking attendant at the park. She said, though, many visitors might be taking advantage of the holiday to head back home after a weekend getaway.

Kristi Butry, another parking attendant, agreed attendance may have peaked Saturday or Sunday because people from out of town might use Monday for the trip home.

"I would imagine today is the day everyone is wrapping up and returning back home," said Sal Coniglio, who works in the Falls Information Center.

Indeed, the weekend drew to a close too fast for some as visitors looked to long drives home and the return to the working week.

"We've got to go home and get some sleep for work tomorrow," said Brad Walters of Cleveland. "That's the bogus part."

Still, the park had its share of out-of-town visitors. Louise Robinson, Jennifer Dickinson and Vicki Swain, all from England, said they had come up from New York City Friday to see the Falls and were spending Monday lying in the sun and enjoying the holiday. "Oh, yeah. It's great. The weather's gorgeous. You can't complain," Ms. Robinson said.

In Olcott, where still chilly Lake Ontario left the air crisp, sunbathing gave way to picnicking as the major holiday activity. The picnic pavilions at Krull County Park were filled with families and games of volleyball and Frisbee abounded on the grass.

Mary Mylar, who runs the New Rialto Park amusement park in Olcott, said she was busier than usual because of the holiday and because her park is just across the street from the County Park.

"We have Krull Park, and it's county owned," she said. "On Grand Island they have to pay a fee." She added that people especially enjoy the fishing, coming from as far as Michigan to fish for salmon.

Most families seemed to turn out just to enjoy the picturesque, tree-shaded picnic ground which overlooks Lake Ontario. "We love this park because it's on a bluff and it's near the water," said Bill Winters of Lockport. "We like it because it is a well-kept-up park and it's not too crowded."

Winters said that he and nine others had come up in the morning to cook breakfast and would be returning home after an afternoon barbecue. Although Lake Ontario registered a frigid 50 degrees, Winters said his children had gone wading in the morning.

Another visitor, Brad Emerick, said that he and 12 others in his family had come from Orchard Park to visit relatives and have a family picnic. Emerick was spending the afternoon fishing from one of the concrete piers that jut out from the base of the bluff.

"I saw a lot of fish but I didn't get any bites yet," he said.

Some, like Dan Herrick of Newfane, had no plans at all except to enjoy the holiday. "I just in WNY
thought I'd cruise down," he said. At Evangola State Park, in the Town of Brant, the temperature was considerably higher than it had been on Sunday and as a result, "We had more people in the water and lots of people sunning," said Tony Chiarilli, assistant bathhouse manager at the park on the Erie County shore of Lake Erie.

"We had a considerably better day today than we did yesterday (Sunday)," he said. "Our weather was much better."

On Sunday, the breeze off the lake and a temperature in the low to mid-50s kept most people on land and had many visitors to the state park wearing jackets. But Monday the mercury hit a high of 75 degrees at 3:15 p.m.

The nice weather was broken about 5 a.m. today and the forecast was for showers or thunderstorms with intervals of sunshine and warm this afternoon with another thunderstorm possible. A high of about 80 was expected with southwest winds from 10 to 20 mph, with higher gusts near thunderstorms.

Tonight, expect more showers or thunderstorms with a humid low of 65 to 70. Wednesday should have sunny intervals and be warm and humid with an occasional shower or thunderstorm likely. High about 80.

The Buffalo Zoo had another good day Sunday, with 5,044 visitors entering the facility in Delaware Park to see the animals and even ride some, like the camel and the elephant. Last Memorial Day, said Donna McIntosh, 4,221 people visited the zoo.

"We did have quite a big weekend," she said, noting a total of 12,014 visitors came to the zoo over the three-day holiday weekend. "We're certainly glad."

News staff reporter Carolyn Raeke contributed to this report.

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