Warmest Christmas in memory for many in Baltimore

Merry Warm Christmas, unless you're maintaining the ice rink

It was 67 degrees on Christmas morning when about 100 Jewish youths from across Florida got off a yellow bus at Baltimore's Pandora Ice Rink in the Inner Harbor.

Steven Ginsberg, 16, of West Palm Beach said he felt cheated as he walked toward the ticket line.

"We were expecting cool weather," said his friend Gabe Grossman, 22, of Orlando.

"And we're sweating," Ginsberg added.

This Christmas was among the warmest in memory for many in Baltimore, just below the city's record high of 73 degrees for the date in 1964. The average temperature for Christmas day is 46.

Christmas Eve was warmer, breaking records up and down the East Coast and earning the social media nickname "blowtorch." New York City had a record high of 74 degrees — about the same temperature as on July 4.

Ginsberg said his mother had him pack sweaters and coats for the trip. "I brought just one T-shirt, and this is what I've been wearing all week," said Ginsberg, who was also sporting a Santa hat.

Ginsberg and Grossman are here for a United Synagogue Youth conference, and lucky for them, the rink had reopened on Christmas Day. It was closed the day before because of the temperature, according to Adam Love, 37, the rink's general manager.

Two of Love's staff had just finished pushing slush off the ice before the youth group came.

"It's terrible," said Clarence Hale, 21, who has the job of maintaining the ice. "But somehow we're making it work."

Love said that as long as it's not too hot for the rink's chillers to freeze the ice, the warm weather has actually been good because it gets more customers to enjoy the outdoors. But it does cause more work for Hale and other staff members, who must constantly maintain the ice.

Across town, at Druid Hill Park, the "Druid Hill Gladiators," a group of regular walkers and runners, stretched in a circle and chatted after an 8-mile walk-run. The group was all smiles, enjoying the weather.

"Good morning, Merry Christmas," they shouted to other runners circling the reservoir.

"It's global warming for real," said Stephen Posey, 61, of Baltimore. "We're out here like it's in Florida. This is not Baltimore weather, but we like it."

Closer to downtown near the Weinberg Catholic Charities shelter, Tay Martin, 47, and Kells Shields, 27, were also enthusiastic about the weather.

"I love it! Love it!" Martin said. "I'm spontaneous, and I think that the weather falls in that category today. But it's a blessing to be here and experience anything."

Martin said she was in the hospital this week with congestive heart failure, a condition that she said has left her jobless and living in the shelter.

In Annapolis, walkers and joggers in shorts and T-shirts crossed the Spa Creek drawbridge near where the Annapolis Yacht Club had burned down in a Christmas tree fire a week ago.

Bruce and Shelly Duncan were out walking their rescue dog Penny and drinking coffee from Royal Farms.

"It's just awesome," Shelly Duncan, 55, said of the weather.

"It's perfect except for the grass is still growing," joked Bruce Duncan, 62. "We haven't had to get the snow shovels out, and that's good."

In the Rodgers Forge neighborhood just north of Baltimore, Finlay Harmon, 8, and Julia Harmon, 14, bounced a yellow spikeball outside their home.

"It's great to have them outside and burn off some energy," said their dad, Liam Harmon, 44. "I'm born and raised in Baltimore, and I don't ever recall a Christmas like that where I can sit outside on our back deck and just enjoy the weather. It's great."

crentz@baltsun.com

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