It was feeling very little like Christmas on Thursday afternoon as golfers hit the links, tennis players prepped for a match and a father and son from Troy made the trip to Central Park in Schenectady for a day of fishing.
Damien Mackey and his 10-year-old son, Damien Mackey Jr., cracked into the Christmas loot a day early, and headed to what Mackey said is one of the best bass fishing spots in the region.
“This feels like spring,” Damien Jr. said. “It’s Christmas Eve and it feels like spring; it’s kind of weird.”
“One of his gifts was a new fishing bag and whole bunch of fishing lures …” his dad said. “He’s out here trying them all — Christmas came early for him.”
Down the street at Stadium Golf Course, more than 200 people scored tee times in the fortunate weather. Golfers were spread out on nearly every tee box, fairway and green — not to mention the rough — on the course. At the first hole, golf course owner Greg Hennel, who had been steadily waving groups onto the tee box since 7:15 a.m., said everyone was in the holiday spirit.
“I’m not really hearing anyone complain; they are golfing on Christmas Eve …” Some of the golfers even donned shorts and a t-shirt for their late-December round. Most opted for a light sweater or long-sleeved shirt. As the morning gave way to afternoon, the sun peeked through the clouds and temperatures pushed 70 degrees.
“I don’t think I’ll get another chance to say I played golf on Christmas Eve in shorts and a t-shirt,” said Jake Coffey of Niskayuna.
High temperatures are normally more than 30 degrees cooler on Christmas Eve than they were Thursday — the warmest Dec. 24 on record, according to the National Weather Service. As of 3 p.m., temperatures at Albany International Airport clocked in at 69 degrees, 12 degrees higher than the previous warm record. The weather service later announced temperatures as high as 71 degrees – the warmest December day on record. Warm weather records dropped across the Eastern United States from 82 degrees in Norfolk Va., to 66 degrees in Montpelier, Vt.
The warm Capital Region Thursday also guaranteed this winter will go down in the books as the latest first measurable snowfall of the season, breaking a 103-year-old record. And so far this December has been on average three degrees warmer than the next warmest December on record, according to the weather service.
Temperatures are expected to slip back to highs in the mid-50s on Christmas Day and continue to cool through the weekend, National Weather Service meteorologist Neil Stuart said Thursday. Next week, a cold front is expected to drop temperatures back toward normal, with highs in the 30s. Stuart said there is a “chance” of snow beginning late Monday night and into Tuesday morning.
“We are officially into winter,” he said. “We have a lot of winter left to go through.”
But for at least Thursday, Capital Region residents were treated to a spring afternoon in December. In Central Park, bikers and joggers, dogwalkers and families enjoyed the weather. A group of four people strolled through the park’s disc golf course, each one wearing a red Santa hat. A pair of friends unloaded their mountain bikes in a nearby parking lot.
Brad Kilmer, who moved back home to Schenectady in June after living in California for 25 years, walked back and forth on the tennis courts with a roller to move water off the court. He and a friend planned to play their second match in as many days.
“As long as it doesn’t rain anymore,” Kilmer said with a laugh. “For some people it’s nice being able to get out and get some exercise — God knows you are eating enough.”
At the lake, the Damiens continued to patiently cast their lines, reel them back and repeat.
“It’s a sock,” Damien Jr. said as he pulled his line out of the water.
“Oh, you caught a sock,” his dad replied, helping Damien Jr. remove a mangled piece of dripping fabric from his hook.
“I swear to God if I would’ve caught a boot that would be really cartoonish,” Damien Jr. added.
“A boot, it’s in here, somebody’s boot is in here,” his dad said.