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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

In the mid-Atlantic and Ohio Valley, some residents are undeterred by the heat

Participants prepare to march in the Mermaid Parade, along the Coney Island boardwalk in New York on Saturday, June 22, 2024. On the first weekend of summer, a brutal heat wave took hold for a sixth consecutive day, continuing to scorch large swaths of the United States. (Graham Dickie/The New York Times)

By Kevin Williams, Donna M. Owens and Jon Hurdle

The heat wave was especially brutal in the Ohio Valley and the mid-Atlantic states on Saturday. Yet that did not stop some resilient locals from attending an air show, hanging out at an African American heritage festival or going on hourslong bike rides.

In Dayton, Ohio, the heat index surged well into the 90s, but tens of thousands of people braved the stifling weather to attend the CenterPoint Energy Dayton Air Show, a beloved tradition in the city. Attendees navigated through bumper-to-bumper traffic and a long, hot walk onto the grounds, carrying coolers and lawn chairs.

Dozens of airplanes were parked on the tarmac, and air show regulars sat under their wings for a bit of relief from the blistering sun. “They know to hide under a plane wing for a while,” said Martin Kelly, 61, referring to his four grandchildren who had staked out a shady spot under a KC-135R refueling plane.

Preparations were made for the heat, such as bringing in city buses to serve as mobile cooling shelters, according to the show director. But 109 attendees were treated for heat-related ailments, and 12 were transported off grounds.

Some 400 miles away, in Baltimore, thousands of locals at the AFRAM Music Festival — one of the largest of its kind on the East Coast — came to celebrate African American culture. They carried tents and backpacks filled with bottled water to guard against the sun and rising temperatures.

Baltimore was even more sweltering, with a temperature of 101 and a heat index of 106 Saturday afternoon. But still, organizers of the festival — which features activities including African drumming, mask making and music entertainment by rappers Busta Rhymes and Big Daddy Kane, among others — were expecting some 300,000 people to attend over the weekend.

Aja Wilkinson, 24, a recent graduate of Morgan State University, was at the festival for the first time. “Even though it’s so hot, I wanted to be here for the community of it all,” she said while hopping on a cooling bus.

In Philadelphia, where the heat index shot up to 105, a group of five bicyclists were determined to go on a 60-mile ride from Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, which took about five hours. The riders, aged 52 to 69, dismissed any concerns that they might be crazy to ride in the heat.

“We’ve done 100 miles in this kind of weather,” said John Ditterle, 62. “It’s much worse in the cold.”

Still, some were struggling to cope with the unusually early heat wave. Temperatures in Philadelphia, for instance, don’t usually reach the 90s until mid-July or August, according to Derrick Fleming, a 53-year-old chef.

“It’s too sudden,” he said.

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