BANGOR, Maine — The mercury was rising to record levels Sunday, but cabin fever was on the wane for most Mainers.
Clear skies, bright sun and record-bashing temperatures as high as the mid-70s gave people more than enough reason to get outside and enjoy the weather as the temperature officially topped out at 76 in the Bangor area Sunday afternoon.
“We broke a lot of records today,” said Joseph Hewitt, lead forecaster for the National Weather Service office in Caribou.
And it won’t be long before we flirt with record highs again.
“Monday will cool off from the upper 40s to 50 in the north and lower- to mid-50s in Greater Bangor and the Piscataquis region, but there will be a resurgence with 60s on Tuesday.
Wednesday could be warmest day with lower to mid-70s Down East all the way to Bangor and Dover-Foxcroft.”
For William Stanley of Bangor and 2-year-old son Aleczander, it didn’t matter whether Sunday’s highs were records or not. It was a perfect day to get out of the house.
“He was all excited because we got to go outside,” said Stanley while chasing his energetic son all around the playground equipment at Broadway Park. “This is really the first time I’ve been able to get outside, especially with him, probably since October.”
Temperatures were a bit cooler near the coast, but that didn’t stop motorcyclists from taking to the streets.
John Dorr of Auburn had already braved the elements a couple times this year on his 2007 Harley-Davidson Heritage Soft Tail, but his ride to Pemaquid Point was decidedly less brave under Sunday’s bright sun and spring-like temperatures.
“This is rare,” said Dorr after a walk around Pemaquid light with his friend and passenger, Susan Walden of Richmond. “We came up to the area just to enjoy the nice view. This is a very opportune time to take a ride.”
Walden said she noticed the temperature drop about 10 degrees between Route 1 and the tip of the Pemaquid peninsula about 15 miles south. Still, temperatures at the coastline were firmly in the 50s, warm enough for dozens of people to drive past not-yet-opened stores, restaurants and ice cream shack to see one of midcoast Maine’s most scenic areas.
Bangor’s previous high was 65, set last year. Hewitt said other record highs were set Sunday in Caribou with 64 degrees, Houlton with 69 and Millinocket with 72. The previous records weren’t just broken, they were smashed. Caribou’s previous high was 48, set in 1968; Houlton’s was 61 in 1936; and Millinocket’s was 62, also in 1936.
Work was about the only thing keeping people from venturing outside and enjoying the weather.
“Working Monday through Friday, I don’t get a chance to get out much,” said Darci, a registered nurse at St. Joseph Hospital in Bangor. “I normally get out to walk because I have to walk the dog. But the nicer the weather, the longer the walk.”
Sunday was an ideal day for the Bangor resident to give her 2-year-old, 130-pound bull mastiff a walk around the park off Howard Street with friend Shawna. Both women preferred not to have their last names reported.
The weather was a great birthday present for Darci’s son Simon, who turned 10 Sunday and was zipping along the sidewalks on his Razor scooter along with a friend.
The ground was still soggy in some spots, muddy in others, and snow- or ice-covered in still others at the Rolland F. Perry City Forest in Bangor, but that didn’t keep people from hiking, running or biking their way along the trails at the popular outdoor spot.
“It was a no-brainer to get outdoors, and taking the bike was my husband’s idea,” said Denyse Wilson of Bangor. “I was out here a lot skiing whenever there was any snow. My husband and kids probably get out here twice a month or so when it’s nice.”
Wilson said city forest conditions were quite unique and enjoyable Sunday.
“I liked the thick mud to ride through and the occasional wafts of cold air coming up in certain spots,” she said. “I went down the railroad bed and into the other wildlife sanctuary. It was great.”
Paul Corcoran of Bangor and son Kyle Hylan-Corcoran came to the city forest to walk their 9-year-old dog named Lucy as they hiked and did some bird watching.
“I would say it’s the beginning of spring finally,” Corcoran said. “Who knows? Mother Nature might still throw us a curveball and give us some snow, but spring’s here today.”
For some, visiting Pemaquid Point and nearby Colonial Pemaquid was a long-term goal sparked Sunday by high temperatures and bright sunshine.
Mary Gazda and her husband drove up from Cumberland.
“We’ve been wanting to explore this particular place for some time,” she said.
Jennifer Riefler and her son Terrence Reid drove down from Verona Island, lured by the area’s long and storied Native American and English settlement history. And of course, the sun.
“It’s like April weather in March,” said Riefler. “You’d expect at this time of year snow and ice and strong winds and trying to find protection and here we are in a sunny, glorious April-type day. It’s great.”
“Sweatshirt weather,” chimed in Reid.