These guys were definitely not the polar bears.

You know, the adventurers who plunge into frigid lakes and rivers in the winter, usually to raise money for charity.

Nope. These guys were the solar bears*, baking on the sand at Lee Street Beach, sun beating down, and Lake Michigan beckoning, just a few feet away.

“The water was excellent,” said Amy Culberg, one of about 25 people at the beach around noon.


But if the water temperature was perfect, the near-100-degree day projected “instant heat,” Culberg said, as soon as you got out of the water.

Amy Culberg (L) and Kate Hunt at Lee Street Beach.

“I just air dry,” said another beachgoer, Kate Hunt.

Because school is back in session, the only children at the beach were toddlers there with parents.

Leah Schenkier brought her three-and-a-half-year old son Zion. Katlin Molloy brought her daughter, two-year-old Delle.

“What’s better than to go swimming?” on a broiling hot day, Schenkier said.

“The water was perfect, really refreshing.”

L-R: Katlin Molloy, Delle Molloy, Leah Schenkier. Schenkier’s son Zion was camera-shy.

Molloy added that they all just came to the beach “for a quick dunk before it really heats up. Now we’re heading home.”

Not everyone who was outside could head home, at least not until their work shifts were finished.

Road work continues, heat or not. Dodge near Main.

Various road, water main, and building construction workers were coping with the heat as best they could.

One bit of good news to cool down the heat: At Washington Elementary School, where the air conditioning was not working in certain locations on the first day of school, Wednesday, the replacement part has been “installed and is running in that part of the building,” according to District 65 spokesperson Hannah Hoffmeister.

Some work is still being done on the system, “but there is definitely improvement.”

No other A/C problems were reported in the district’s buildings.

While most Evanstonians did anything possible to stay out of the heat, Tamara Arrington did just the opposite.

Harrington had her lunch smack in the middle of a nearly empty Fountain Square, where all of five people were sitting, with four of them under trees for shade.

“I like being in the sun,” Arrington said.

Tamara Arrington had Fountain Square almost to herself.

“It’s not too hot for me.”

Plus, as she noted, it won’t be too terribly long before we’ll all be complaining about the cold instead of the heat.

Cue the polar bears.

(* — “Solar bears” is the nickname of a minor league hockey team in Orlando, Florida. So credit them with concocting the phrase. Besides, nothing says 100 degrees like ice hockey).

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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