In Wilmington’s Rodney Square Monday afternoon, the masses are enjoying Delaware’s first truly hot day of the year.
In this downtown gathering place, two small children are throwing a ball back and forth; a skateboarder misses a landing and wipes sweat off his brow; and countless others have escaped the surrounding office buildings to eat their lunch under a cloudless sky.
Temperatures in the 80s are challenging record highs. Coming after what seems like weeks of cool, dreary weather in the First State, it is a welcome surprise.
“Wonderful, beautiful, my type of weather,” says Jackie Harris during an extended lunch break. “It could be like this every day, I’ll be alright.”
In the front of the square, in the shadow of Caesar Rodney’s statue, there are the familiar games of chess, but with the nice weather comes something else. Suddenly the games have audiences.
“I’m out here just about every day,” says Seth Weaver, barely taking his eyes off the board. “There’s definitely a lot more people out here.”
So is the hot weather and bigger crowds affecting Weaver’s game? Apparently not as much as a reporter’s questions about the weather.
“I was doing OK,” he says, this time looking away from the game to make his point.
And then there is Jeff Wilmoth. Nobody captures the moment quite like Wilmoth. Frequent visitors to the public square may know him as the guy with the boom box.
“That’s what I do, that’s what I’m known for.”
But on this day, Wilmoth has kicked it up a notch. For the first time this year he is holding his shirt instead of wearing it.
“So I can get a tan,” he says.
And of the masses around him?
“They like to come to the Square and they like to relax in the nice weather because it feels good.”
The hot weather is good for the soul and a few blocks down Market Street, it is good for the hot dog business.
“It makes the money come faster,” says hot dog vendor Brandon Peace.
From his cart in front of the Grand Opera House, Peace typically sells about 90 dogs. Today it will likely be double that.
“Everybody’s outside when the weather’s nice.”
But that doesn’t mean everybody is happy about it. Sue Patton, who is wearing a heavy sweater, says it’s all too much, too soon.
“I still have this on from when it was 55 this morning,” she says. “Now I’m burning up.”
According to the National Weather Service, Patton’s outfit will be much more appropriate Tuesday when yet another cold front is expected to move in.