When a heat wave began to settle over the region like a damp wool blanket Saturday morning, Westmoreland County residents turned to time-honored escape routes to beat the heat.
Pools, lakes and ice cream stands all benefited as the National Weather Service charted the heat index — a combination of the outside temperature with humidity levels factored in — as it climbed to 99 and then 100 across the region.
Despite, or perhaps because of several days of warnings that such temperatures could pose the threat of heat stroke, emergency dispatchers in Westmoreland and Fayette counties said they had no heat-related calls. Supervisors at Excela Westmoreland and Latrobe hospitals echoed their comments.
Experts at the National Weather Service office in Moon recommended continued caution late Saturday, tweeting “hydrate, check on the elderly, check on pets and always #LookBeforeYouLock.”
The same heat that drove many inside to air conditioned comfort drove others to events like the 24th annual Parentwise Ice Cream Blast at the Nevin Arena in Greensburg.
Julie Cawoski couldn’t have been happier.
Cawoski smiled as family after family trooped into Greensburg’s Nevin Arena on Saturday afternoon for the event that benefits the Parentwise program of Wesley Family Services. Cawoski was the event’s director.
The event, a festival that features an afternoon of entertainment by local youth groups, as well as balloon sculptures, a miniature horse and a caricature artist among others, challenges ice cream lovers to sample an array of the cold creamy stuff and then stuff the ballot box for their favorite.
It typically attracts about 800 people.
“I think the weather is driving more of them our way this year,” Cawoski said, scanning the massive arena.
Five-year-old Hudson Neary, who attended with his grandmother, Joyce Neary, of Greensburg, smiled shyly as he dug into a cup of M&M studded ice cream.
Nearby, Chase Marco, 13, of Derry, gave an enthusiastic thumbs up for Oreo cookie ice cream.
For others, water was the draw of the day.
The cool lake at Keystone State Park was a perfect anecdote to the heat for first-time visitors Lea Kleesies and her neighbor Donna Purtell, of Murrysville. The women packed up their four children and headed to the lake to get an early start on the day.
“It’s a hidden gem. It was a perfect getaway for a day like today, “ Purtell said as Kleesies adjusted the water wings on her 4-year-old son, Luke.
Susan Marcone, 58, of Monroeville said she has been trekking to the lake as long as she can remember. She arrived prepared for the day, totting an umbrella, beach chair, floating chaise and a Yeti cooler full of goodies.
“We’ve been coming here since we were kids,” she said. “It’s my favorite way to relax.”
Others opted to beat the heat closer to home. Caitlin Spacht, of Greensburg, said the spray deck at Veterans Memorial Pool was the perfect fit for her son, Maddox. The toddler, who recently celebrated his first birthday, giggled wildly as he teased at the sprays that provided a cool respite from the afternoon sun.
Who says you can’t beat the heat?