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Weekend chill wilts festival crowds

For a decade now, Michelle Meyer and her sons Tristan, 13, and Raffi, 8, have been visiting the tulips in Commissioners Park on Mother’s Day. Despite the winter-like conditions yesterday, they were not about to give up on that tradition.

For a decade now, Michelle Meyer and her sons Tristan, 13, and Raffi, 8, have been visiting the tulips in Commissioners Park on Mother’s Day. Despite the winter-like conditions yesterday, they were not about to give up on that tradition.

“The weather is shocking cold, but it’d give me pause because it’s the tradition in our family,” said Meyer. “I have pictures of the kids every year, so we have to see the effects of their growth.”

Most years, she buys the kids Popsicles, and they take pictures and wander amongst the tulips for a couple of hours.

Yesterday, it was just too cold for ice cream, so they decided to go with candy apples.

According to Environment Canada, the normal high for this weekend is around 18 C. For the first weekend on the Canadian Tulip Festival, the temperature barely rose above 5 C, which meant there were just as many toques as there were tulips.

So, while visitors to the tulip gardens in Commissioners Park had plenty of sympathy for ice cream vendor McKenzie Maxwell, few people were interested in buying her frozen treats. In the first two hours of her shift yesterday, she’d only sold two.

“It’s better than I expected,” she said, wearing a winter jacket, toque and red Olympic mittens.

“Everyone walks by and says I should be selling hot chocolate. It’s not a great day for selling ice cream.”

Even the vendors who were selling hot chocolate weren’t selling much.

“It’s just too cold for people to come out,” said Fred Murphy, who sells fudge, candy apples, cotton candy and hot chocolate. “All we need is nicer weather and the crowds will be here.”

Murphy has been at the tulip festival for several years. He said there was less than a quarter of the usual crowd out yesterday, and Saturday was even worse.

Things should pick up by next weekend, when Environment Canada says highs will reach 16 C.

 
 
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