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In Bel Air, a spring snow is good for snowball fights, comic books and pizza

The Aegis

Karisa Sikora, of Bel Air, and her children Zoe, 9, and Xavier, age 7, walked along Gordon Street toward the Klein’s ShopRite supermarket at Gordon and North Main Street Wednesday afternoon to pick up some groceries before going sledding on the nearby Bel Air Elementary School campus.

“It’s wonderful,” Zoe, a third-grader at Bel Air Elementary, said when asked how she was enjoying her snow day and this winter’s largest snowfall – on the second of spring.

“It’s OK, I’d rather be doing math,” Xavier, a first-grader, said.

He’ll have to wait until at least Friday, however, because early Wendesday evening, Harford County Public Schools announced classes would be canceled for at least a second day on Thursday. That will also require schools to be open on Thursday, March 28, which had been scheduled as the first day of spring break.

Xavier stopped to lie down in the heavy, white snow, and he and his sister and mother later engaged in an impromptu snowball fight during their trip to the supermarket.

“It’s exciting to be able to finally get a real snow day,” Karisa Sikora said. On the previous days schools have been closed, she said, the snow has been wet and slushy, not suitable for activities such as sledding.

“It’s funny that it snows on the second day of spring, but that’s Maryland weather for you,” said Sikora, who said she has lived in Maryland throughout her life.

The snowfall was light Wednesday morning, but it became steady by early afternoon. Government agencies and many businesses were closed in Bel Air. A few downtown stores and restaurants stayed open but closed early as the weather worsened.

Ken Matthews, assistant store director for the North Main Street ShopRite, said his store and other local ShopRites would close by 5 p.m. Wednesday to ensure employees get home safely.

Shoppers were in the Bel Air store around 2 p.m., although a much smaller crowd than the normal weekday afternoon. Matthews said the store opened at its normal time at 6 a.m., and the largest crowds were between 8 and 11 a.m. Matthews said the store has a number of walk-in customers.

“[Shoppers] get up early, get what they need to get and go home and relax and enjoy the snow,” he said.

A skid loader with Dixie Construction Co., which Matthews said has a contract with ShopRite to clear its parking lot, was busy clearing the lot Wednesday afternoon as the snow continued to come down.

Kelsey Campbell, store manager of the Collectors Corner comic book shop on North Main Street, said about 10 customers had come in after the store opened around 11 a.m.

“Everyone who has come in has been a Wednesday regular,” she said. There were no customers when an Aegis reporter stopped by he store around 1 p.m.

Cambell said new comics are released on Wednesdays, and the customers who came in either picked up their subscriptions or checked out the new books on display.

She said she had received a call from the Collectors Corner owner who said she should close at 1:30 p.m. Collectors Corner operates three stores in Baltimore City, Parkville and Bel Air.

“Just because the roads are getting bad, and he wants to make sure that we get home safe,” Campbell said of the reason for closing stores early.

Campbell, who lives in Jacksonville in Baltimore County, said the main highways had been in good condition when driving into work, although side roads had been slushy.

The Buontempo Bros. pizza shop on South Main Street, a downtown Bel Air mainstay, was open and had lunchtime customers. The restaurant often stays open during inclement weather – co-owner Richard Lynch said he would close if the county declared a state of emergency, however.

Lynch said he and most of his employees live within walking distance, and those who live farther away have the option of not coming in.

“We’ve got a better track record than the post office for being open,” Lynch said.

The Harford County government had not declared a local state of emergency, nor had the state, as of 4:15 p.m.

The county did activate its Snow Plow Tracker, which is online at http://apps.harfordcountymd.gov/SnowPlowTracker/Disclaimer.aspx. County leaders urged residents, via Facebook, to stay off the roads and be patient as State Highway Administration and county crews work to clear snow that had hit “10 inches and counting” in some parts of Harford.

Buontempo’s customer Elaine Baxter, who lives and works in Bel Air, came in to get lunch while working in her downtown office. Baxter, who lives in town on Broadway, said she works in accounting and usually walks to her job.

“I’m fortunate to be able to be in town and be able to walk [to places],” she said.

The Buontempo’s regular joked with employee Tyler Porsch that she came to get pizza and to see him. She said it was “fortunate” the restaurant was open.

“It seems to be getting worse,” Baxter said of the snow. “When I walked over [to work] earlier, it was fine.”

Angelo Carrion and his fiancée, who live in Bel Air, drove over to Buontempo’s for lunch.

“It’s pretty rough out,” Carrion said.

“You pretty much need a jeep or a truck in this type of weather, preferably with big tires,” said Carrion, who drives a Toyota sedan.

He remarked on how the snowfall was picking up by the afternoon.

“Once you walk through the snow, if you circle back, your footprints are gone,” he said.

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