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'Everybody who lives in the city is currently outside': Baltimore crowds enjoy spring-like weather

"When you get a day like today and weather like this, you just can't pass it up."

By Sunday, winter had given up entirely.

The Inner Harbor reached 71 degrees, an average for April. Baltimore was warmer Sunday than Atlanta, and an Inner Harbor breeze swept the clouds into one corner of robin egg sky.

For the second day, tourists and Maryland families crowded the harbor to celebrate spring weather, one month early. They ate strawberries on the promenade, walked their dogs, pushed their strollers of toddlers kicking in glee. Children led their parents by the hand to the water's edge and the ducks. "Come on!" they urged.

Or they waited in line to rent the dragon boats that don't usually open until March.

"I got a line out here," manager Patrice Adkins called to her dock hands Sunday. The men readied the paddle boats, green and purple dragons.

Adkins said the weekend was the first time they opened in February since she began in 2002. Some boats were still out for winter repairs.

Shannon Kreiner, of Patterson Park, waited in line with her boyfriend.

"It's really weird," she said, "Valentine's Day was this week. Now people are out in tank tops."

Her boyfriend, Jack Williams, was visiting from New Jersey. On Saturday, they relished the sunshine and Baltimore's high of 71 degrees by strolling through Fells Point. They decided to tour the Inner Harbor Sunday. Both days were about 20 degrees warmer than average.

"Everybody who lives in the city is currently outside," Kreiner said. "Everybody is taking advantage of it."

The animals were, too. At the The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore the African elephants, giraffes and chimpanzees, which usually snub the winter by staying indoors, had wandered outside to their pens.

"Which is very unusual because their tolerance for cold weather is much lower," said Jane Ballentine, the zoo spokeswoman.

Last Sunday, the weather in Baltimore was 50 degrees and closer to average. Some 150 people visited the zoo, Ballentine said. But this past Saturday brought 4,888 guests.

"A friend of mine texted me and said she's never seen lines at the zoo in February," Ballentine said.

Back at the Inner Harbor, families walked the promenade past one, two, three balloon men.

"When you get a day like today and weather like this, you just can't pass it up," said Michael Brittingham, who twists balloons into everything from unicorns for girls to battle axes for boys.

Usually, he winters in Clearwater, Fla. He considered Sunday's crowd: "It's like a June day."

Nearby, Barry Perhamsky also twisted balloons and said Saturday was just as popular.

"It was mobbed, packed and jammed in here — standing room only," he said. "It's usually cold with snow on the ground."

In fact, this month last year the Maryland Stadium Authority was trying to make disappear about 18,000 tons of snow piled in a parking lot needed for Opening Day. January 2016 brought the historic snowfall that buried Baltimore beneath nearly 30 inches. But it was a distant memory for families strolling along the harbor Sunday.

Sunday afternoon also reached 71 degrees at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. The record high for the date is 72 degrees, set in 1997. The warm weather is forecast to continue later this week: highs in the 50s Monday and Tuesday, then 67 Wednesday and 70 Thursday.

Sunday afternoon, a crowd gathered to hear Baltimore street musician Japheth Clark play the flugelhorn. He played "I Saw Her Standing There" by The Beatles then "Kung Fu Fighting."

Kristal Preston, of Baltimore, danced alone before the crowd until "It's Not Unusual" by Tom Jones began. Then another woman came forward.

Lucy Redzeposki was visiting from New York, and the sort who says, "I don't normally dance in public," but she joined in.

The two strangers danced together in the sunshine.

tprudente@baltsun.com

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