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Ice cream shops, swimming spots draw crowds as temps soar

  • Adam Komosinski and his daughter, Clementine, 3, play at Puffer’s Pond just outside the splash created by Max Loebel, 10, of Hadley who was getting a spin from his mother, Jen Loebel, at the popular North Amherst watering hole on Sunday.

  • Cara Egbert, second from right, and her daughter Moira, 2 1/2, of Chicopee wait in line at Herrell's Ice Cream in Northampton on Sunday, July 1, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Eliana Rose-Langston, 7, of Florence laughs after she tipped into the water at Puffer's Pond in North Amherst while trying to balance on a board held by her mother, Rebecca Rose-Langston, left, on Sunday, July 1, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • John Cunningham and his daughter Leah, 5, of Amherst float on Puffer's Pond in North Amherst as temperatures reached into the upper 90s on Sunday, July 1, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Amherst College rising senior Julia Pike of New York enjoys a cup of ice water offered by Justin Esiason, with the town of Amherst’s Conservation Department, who was making the rounds at Puffer’s Pond in North Amherst as temperatures reached the upper 90s on Sunday. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hazel McMurray, 3, and her mom Jenn Weisberger of Goshen enjoy a cold treat at Herrell's Ice Cream in Northampton on Sunday, July 1, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Justin Esiason, with the town of Amherst's Conservation Department, offers a cup of ice water to Laura Melano-Flanagan, right, of New York, a faculty member at the Smith College School of Social Work, during a visit to Puffer's Pond in North Amherst as temperatures reached into the upper 90s on Sunday, July 1, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Revelers play in the shallow water where Cushman Brook feeds into Puffer's Pond in North Amherst on Sunday, July 1, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Scene on the south beach at Puffer's Pond in North Amherst as temperatures reached into the upper 90s on Sunday, July 1, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Maeve Cunningham, 7, of Amherst plays on the beach at Puffer's Pond in North Amherst as temperatures reached into the upper 90s on Sunday, July 1, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Clementine Komosinski, 3, of South Hadley cools off in a few inches of water on the south beach at Puffer's Pond in North Amherst as temperatures reached into the upper 90s on Sunday, July 1, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Scene on the south beach at Puffer's Pond in North Amherst as temperatures reached into the upper 90s on Sunday, July 1, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Scene on the south beach at Puffer's Pond in North Amherst as temperatures reached into the upper 90s on Sunday, July 1, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING



Staff Writer
Monday, July 02, 2018

Frigid water at Puffer’s Pond in North Amherst was a source of relief Sunday for throngs of people dealing with near 100-degree temperatures on the second day of what is projected to be a weeklong heat wave.

“It’s a hot day,” said Gabe Smith-Sullivan, 8, of Haydenville, who was standing at the edge of the pond alongside his twin brother, Rob Smith-Sullivan, and their mother, Ellen Smith. “I went in and the water is still cold.”

Gabe said it was only the second time he remembered coming to Puffer’s, but it was an enjoyable way to cool off.

“We’re just hanging out in the water,” Rob Smith-Sullivan said.

Not only had they been able to play in the water, but Gabe was excited also to find a tiny, harmless snake that he held in his hands before releasing it back into the water.

On the nearby beach, Leah Cunningham, 5, and her older sister, Maeve, 7, each wearing matching pink sun hats, built a sandcastle in a shaded area near their parents, John and Toni Cunningham.

While Leah transported water back from the pond to pour into a moat she had dug out in the sand, Maeve went to the shoreline to collect smooth rocks in her bucket.

“I’’m going to put them down to make the castle,” Maeve said.

Sunday was the first time the family had gotten to Puffer’s this year. “We were worried about getting shade, but there’s plenty of it,” Toni Cunningham said.

For Laura Melano-Flanagan of Brooklyn, New York, despite 30 years teaching at the Smith School for Social Work at Smith College, she had never been to the pond.

Back for an alumni weekend, Melano-Flanagan discovered the beach during an online search and loved it so much Saturday that she returned.

“It’s got the most beautiful atmosphere, a completely different feel from other beaches,” she said. “It’s really a wonderful beach.”

A caretaker walked among the beachgoers to keep the site clean of any potential debris and also offering water from a large jug, noting the need for swimmers and picnickers to keep hydrated.

Cool treats

A different kind of keeping cool was being done at Herrell’s at Thornes Marketplace in Northampton Sunday afternoon, where the heat brought many seeking the cool pleasure of ice cream, including the family of Jenn Weisgerber, Aaron McMurray and their 3-year-old daughter, Hazel McMurray.

“We came for a special treat because it’s so hot outside,” Weisgerber said.

Hazel was eating a small dish of black raspberry ice cream with sprinkles, an appropriate flavor considering that her favorite color is purple.

The line to get in was atypically long for a Sunday, more like a Saturday night in summer, Aaron McMurray observed.

The family had gone swimming at the DAR State Forest in Goshen the day before, but opted to mostly stay indoors Sunday.

Waiting in the long line were Jeremy and Cara Egbert of Chicopee, who brought their children Moira, 2, and Rowan 7 months, to the ice cream shop.

“We thought it would be fun to get some ice cream today,” Jeremy Egbert said.

Extra water

For others, outdoor work continued in spite of the heat. Tending to her garden plot outside the Walter Salvo House on Conz Street, Debra Horton was giving some of the plants an extra dose of water before the regular watering in the evening.

“We’re all in fear of this heat wave because we’re afraid we’ll lose our plants,” Horton said.

But she said many of the plants are doing well, with tomatoes and peppers thriving after a stretch of cold overnights in June. A recently planted sunflower plant, though, with no shade to protect it, will have to be brought back inside.

Horton said she was confident that her vegetables, herbs and other plants will make it. “The garden will do just fine as long as you water it,” Horton said.

Even though swimmers and gardeners were outside, for many it made sense to avoid being outdoors as much as possible, especially as the afternoon sun grew hotter. Few had taken advantage of the cooling center set up at the Northampton Senior Center, with just one woman reading a magazine, and then leaving, in mid-afternoon.

Jeremy Egbert said there was some comfort being inside Sunday.

“With kids, it’s a little too warm to be outside,” he said.

While Smith had her family at Puffer’s Pond for some of the morning and early afternoon, they planned to get to a screening of “Incredibles 2” at a local movie theater.

“We’re heading for the air conditioning later in the day,” Smith said.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.