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A Place in the Sun : Hot-Weather Lovers Venture Out to Uncrowded Parks

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Vicki Martin did her best to beat Wednesday’s heat by sprawling on a blanket underneath the swaying shade of a huge oak tree while her daughter played at Conejo Valley Park in Thousand Oaks.

Martin would have preferred to retreat to her air-conditioned home in Moorpark. But her daughter wanted to continue clambering on a nearby jungle gym with other children. “OK, another half an hour while I socialize my child,” Martin said, setting a time limit for outdoor play.

Temperatures on Wednesday didn’t soar to the uncomfortable highs of the two previous days, staying in the low 90s in inland Ventura County.

But Martin, a native New Yorker, said the hot days make her long for a cold winter. “I want to show the children what weather is like.”

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In contrast nearby, a vacationing Magni Roedder of Norway basked in the early afternoon warmth. Only one week into a three-month U.S. stay, Roedder described the warm spell as “delicious” compared to the weather in her native land, where “it rains all the time.”

Across the Moorpark Freeway, two Moorpark College students took advantage of a break between classes to roller-skate at Conejo Creek Park. With the noontime sun bearing down, the two worked up a sweat in the first 20 minutes on the sidewalk.

Despite the sweat running down his face, David Weisman, 20, of Thousand Oaks said he needed to continue to exercise. “I have a belly,” Weisman said.

David Russomanno, 20, of Thousand Oaks, Weisman’s skating partner, said a slight breeze made the late-September heat quite pleasant. “Hey, aren’t we going to the beach tomorrow?” he asked Weisman.

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The summer-like heat wave was expected to continue through the weekend, although coastal areas could expect morning low clouds and fog, said Kent Field, a meteorologist with the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District.

But he said not to expect cool fall temperatures until about the second week of October.

The heat didn’t seem to bother 350 senior citizens, ranging in age from 60 to 98, who turned out at Conejo Creek Park for the annual Retired Senior Volunteer Program banquet, honoring longtime volunteers.

The nearly four-hour program and barbecue under the slatted roof of the park’s picnic area started at 9 a.m. to avoid the day’s highest temperatures, said director Louise Danielle. Dozens of seniors were honored for giving service ranging from five to 20 years, Danielle said.

“They’re brave volunteers to turn out in this heat,” she said.

In attendance at the barbecue, Thousand Oaks City Councilwoman Judy Lazar said scorching temperatures couldn’t keep such a socially committed crowd away.

“These are the die-hard volunteers,” Lazar said.

As the gathering broke up shortly after noon, Joe J. Brown headed out with his wife, Eva, to perform music on the harmonica at a convalescent home, he said. Brown, 86, was recognized in the program for 15 years of volunteering to help cheer up residents of nursing homes, Eva said.

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The couple, married 57 years, wore matching straw hats and mirrored sunglasses to protect them from the midday sun. They took the weather in stride.

“It comes, and there’s nothing we can do about it except try to keep cool,” Joe Brown said.

But the heat apparently kept the usual crowds of parents and young children away from the normally popular playground at the Conejo Creek Park, said Joe Foley, whose 2-year-old son, Sean, had the run of the place.

The weather even changed the habits of his precocious toddler, added Foley, who watched the boy riding his bike from one of the few shaded benches in the park.

“He runs around for 10 or 15 minutes, then he comes over and sits down for 10 or 15 minutes,” Foley said. “He comes over for a drink and says, ‘Yeah. It feels good in the shade.’ ”


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