Do you know how to tell when it’s spring?
When the patio bar at Mickey Rat’s Beach Club finally opens.
And that’s exactly what happened this weekend.
“It’s great to be doing this,” said Richi Alberts, owner of the Angola establishment. “The weather got nice in March, and then the last three weekends haven’t been good.”
But this weekend – with blue skies and high temperatures in the low- to mid-70s – the signs were everywhere that the Buffalo region had awakened from its winter slumber.
People in shorts and sandals walking Canalside.
Kayakers launching at Hamburg Town Park.
Cookouts at Buffalo Harbor State Park.
That’s where Dawn Mullen staked her claim Saturday, when she piled two grandchildren and five other kids into her vehicle and headed to the park along Fuhrmann Boulevard.
It was Mullen’s first visit of the year – and the playground was packed.
“I couldn’t wait,” said Mullen of Lackawanna. “We used to come here every day last summer – it’s the perfect spot, especially when it’s brutally hot. I stay out here all day.”
The temperature reached a high of 72 degrees on Saturday with Sunday’s high is forecasted to be a couple degrees warmer, said Aaron Reynolds, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service at Buffalo Niagara International Airport.
The region enjoyed a mild winter, but the celebrating was delayed with the recent cold snap.
A cold front arriving Monday will drop temperatures into the 50s for Tuesday – about average for this time of year – but the temperatures will be back up into the 60s by Wednesday and Thursday.
Can we celebrate now?
“We’re probably done with real, real cold weather,” Reynolds said. “We have had bouts where we’ve had cold temperatures at the end of April and beginning of May.
“But, in general” Reynolds said, “we have turned the corner.”
The signs are all around.
In North Buffalo, Hanna’s Frosty Treats is open. So is the Buffalo & Erie County Naval and Military Park.
In Lewiston, The Silo restaurant expects to open later this week – earlier than usual – because of the nice weather. In Lockport, the Transit-Drive In reopened in March.
In Angola, Connor’s Hot Dog Stand on Lake Shore Road was bustling Saturday, while it was difficult to even get near Delaware Park because it was so crowded.
In Lackawanna, boaters readied their vessels over at Bill’s Boatworks.
At Rich Marine Sales, where about 400 boats are docked, co-owner Jay Rich said they’ve been busy putting docks in, turning on the water and electricity, and getting the fuel dock ready and the pump out in preparation of opening later this month.
At Canalside, 26 green, blue and white flags were unfurled above the boardwalk in preparation for the season. Concerts and programming won’t be announced until May, but physical changes are apparent.
Extension of the wooden boardwalk is complete. Crews are working on landscaping. The waterfall is now on in the Commercial Slip. The illuminated grain elevator on the Outer Harbor, a highlight of the winter, will also now be viewable by boaters in Lake Erie.
The Queen City Bike Ferry landing is being spruced up with signage and landscaping for the increased number of passengers expected.
In fact, the Liberty Hound restaurant opened its patio Friday – two weeks early.
“We decided to open earlier because it’s been such a mild winter, and we’re hoping for an early spring,” said co-owner Jason Davidson. “We’re just thrilled. The forecast is amazing this weekend, and we expect a good crowd to come down.”
That’s where you found Kathleen Kwandrans on Saturday, relaxing in an Adirondack chair on the Central Wharf.
Kwandrans, of Amherst, is a huge fan of Canalside, but debated going to Isle View in the City of Tonawanda.
“Sunday I’ll probably go to Isle View and Niawanda Park,” Kwandrans said. “What’s better than being on the waterfront?”
In fact, it’s so nice this weekend, Kwandrans will probably switch her closet over to her spring wardrobe.
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