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Sunny side of year’s unusually warm weather

Michael R. Schmidt~For Sun-Times Media
Members Dundee Scottish Pipe Bparticipate East Dundee St. Patrick's Day Parade Saturday morning.

Michael R. Schmidt~For Sun-Times Media Members of the Dundee Scottish Pipe Band participate in the East Dundee St. Patrick's Day Parade Saturday morning.

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Updated: January 25, 2013 6:04AM



This is one in a series of stories on people and events that shaped our communities in 2012.

Sure, the especially hot summer and unusually mild weather most of the rest of the year might offer further evidence that climate change of some sort is under way.

And, yes, despite last week’s winter storm, there might be things to worry about in the immediate future because of this weather pattern, particularly the impact of a lingering drought.

But let’s be honest. There was plenty to enjoy with northern Illinois resembling southern California on many a day when here typically more closely looks like central Siberia.

As but one example, when the Dickens in Dundee Spirit of Christmas parade marched along Main Street in East and West Dundee on Dec. 1, the temperature was in the 50s. The following day, the thermometer flirted with a ridiculously unseasonable 70, and some folks were sitting outside at at least one area gathering spot watching the Chicago Bears lose to the Seattle Seahawks.

The weather helped extend the season at area golf courses, including those owned and operated by the city of Elgin. According to Elgin Director of Golf Mike Lehman, Bowes Creek Country Club had 24,159 day passes (compared to 17,216 in 2011) and was up 40 percent; the Highlands of Elgin had 29,520 rounds (28,222 in 2011) and was up 4 percent; and Wing Park had 21,758 rounds (18,731 in 2011) and was up 16 percent.

“Bowes Creek does not accurately reflect a simple business benefit because of weather. Bowes’ third year of business was more a reflection of the business growing up as well as fabulous weather,” Lehman said. “Still, the weather this season was fabulous, all business speculation aside. A nice thing for all golf operators in the region.”

One of the more memorable gloriously sunny days was March 17, a St. Patrick’s Day truly lucky for the Irish as the temperature in the area that Saturday reached a record-shattering 82 degrees.

Suddenly, shorts — and kilts — so early in the year weren’t just being worn by silly celebrators but also by people trying to keep cool.

The mood was positively giddy, and area watering holes were beyond busy. At least one — Bandito’s Barney’s in East Dundee — opened up its expansive beer garden, which was packed well into the night. In fact, according to bar manager Ben Mahler, Bandito’s was so hopping that the place ran out of most of its beer — including Ireland’s iconic brand, Guinness, with taps for that dry by 4 p.m.

While the mild weather has been a plus for the bar business most of this year, Mahler said, “St. Patrick’s was definitely the craziest day I’ve ever worked. Most of us did double shifts, and it was the biggest amount of cash and tips anybody can remember Bandito’s bringing in. Hundreds of people came by, and we were packed from 8 a.m. when we opened until 2 a.m. when we closed,” Mahler said.

Over at Rosie O’Hare’s in East Dundee, co-owner Jamie Legner Mueller recalled, “It was a crazy day, but I loved every minute of it. I remember the crazy pub crawl people with their ‘Let’s Get Ready to Stumble’ T-shirts that had shamrocks next to each bar. Rosie’s had three because they were having three drinks there. Oh — then there was a reporter and a good friend of his. Both in kilts.”



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