Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Features and More

Don't pretend summer is over

Seasons are a funny thing in Florida.

Basically, if I had to break it down, I'd say we have two: hot and less hot. The climate here makes arbitrary seasonal rules seem even sillier, and out of touch for those of us trying to get from the parking garage to the office without horrifying sweat rings.

In this issue, you'll find activities to occupy Labor Day weekend, including the return of St. Petersburg's SHINE Mural Festival, parties in Gulfport and Clearwater Beach, the Summer of Rum Festival and some choice concerts.

You'll also find information about a couple "white parties," which boldly buck the myth that you need to retire your white fashions. White is a classic, clean look all year, including winter, and no one in his right mind can tell a Floridian to switch to dark hues when it's 95 degrees. This isn't a mime show.

We seem to operate on a Midwest calendar in America, and nothing makes sense here this time of year. Back-to-school stuff was rolled out in some stores after the kids already went back. Summer clothes are hitting the clearance rack when we're not ready to trade for long pants.

Here are a few other seasonal ideals that don't — or shouldn't — apply to us.

Let us swim

How lovely would it be if more community pools would stay open all year or at least longer? Weekend swims are still a welcome respite in these muggy months. In St. Petersburg, eight pools are seasonal, while the North Shore Aquatic Complex is open year round. In Tampa, eight pools are open year round while only four are seasonal. The pool my family uses in Dunedin closes at the end of September, and I'm bummed. On the same tip, Adventure Island goes to weekends only after Labor Day until it closes for the season Oct. 9. At least they acknowledge we're still swimming in the fall, but we could slide a little longer.

Let us grill

Our events editor Sharon Kennedy Wynne and her husband love to grill. "I get so frustrated at Christmas time when I want to buy barbecue tools," she said, "and I'm told those are seasonal items. In a place where we grill year round!" She says Bealls is her go-to place to get grilling all year.

Let us shop

It shouldn't be so hard to find a decent bathing suit in Florida after Labor Day, should it? Memo to department stores: We do not need a fresh new thermal parka to get us through these long months ahead. We need a new bikini because we have booked a beach house in New Smyrna for a long weekend in October.

Let us pick

You love those photos of your nieces up north, picking red jewels from a lush expanse of apples, sipping cider. But apples, for the most part, don't grow in Florida because they need to get really cold. You might be able to find breeds with low chill needs, but that's getting pretty technical and we know all you want is a Facebook picture in an orchard. One-up those family members. Ditch apples for a precious blueberry and blackberry picking excursion at a local plot like Keel and Curley Winery in Plant City. And stay for the wine. That's always in season.

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