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THE REGION

Fun in the scorching, sweltering sun

Record-breaking heat continues, but people in the Southland are still out and about.

September 16, 2012|Rosanna Xia
  • Temperatures in Manhattan Beach and elsewhere along the coast were cooler than downtown Los Angeles' 103 degrees -- but still hot.
Temperatures in Manhattan Beach and elsewhere along the coast were cooler… (Patrick T. Fallon, For The…)

The hot-pink metal chairs and benches in downtown L.A.'s Grand Park were really hot Saturday: so hot that some visitors skipped sitting and ran barefoot through the fountains with their children, while others collapsed in relief in the pockets of shade under the newly planted trees.

For the second straight day, temperatures downtown set a record high for the date, with Saturday's 103 degrees beating 1979's 102. The temperature may have gone even higher Saturday, but the thermometer at the downtown weather station stopped working at that 103, weather officials said. Friday's temperature also hit triple digits, breaking the 1984 record of 99 degrees.

But like many others across the Southland, people downtown were walking past cooling centers and sweltering in good humor. Hundreds of families gathered at Olvera Street to celebrate Mexico's Independence Day, and cycling enthusiasts donned colorful wigs and capes to parade around downtown for New Belgium Brewing's Tour de Fat celebration of bikes and beer.

"This is nothing," said Albert Soto, 59, wearing thigh-high leg warmers and wielding a water pistol and a blue-and-yellow Cirque du Soleil umbrella. "I just rode 540 miles from UC Berkeley to UCLA and melted two tires on the way. We're bikers. And we're celebrating."

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Monday, September 17, 2012 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 1 inches; 41 words Type of Material: Correction
Temperature record: An article in the Sept. 16 California section about the recent heat wave said Friday's triple-digit high temperature in downtown Los Angeles broke the 99-degree record for the date set in 1984. The previous record was set in 1894.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday, September 23, 2012 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 1 inches; 43 words Type of Material: Correction
Temperature record: An article in the Sept. 16 California section about the recent heat wave said the Sept. 14 triple-digit high temperature in downtown Los Angeles broke the 99-degree record for the date set in 1984. The previous record was set in 1894.

Inland, temperatures reached well over 100 in some cities, but thousands still trekked to Pomona for a full day at the L.A. County Fair. Many ducked into air-conditioned galleries or stood under water misters, escaping the smoke that emanated from nearby grills serving ribs and roasted corn.

Passersby gawked at fiery red signs emblazoned with "Fried Twinkies" and flashing images of rotisserie chicken. Numerous vendors sported black T-shirts that proclaimed, "Totally Fried."

"My shirt says it all. Everything, everybody, we're all totally fried," said George Gavrilla, singing and turning kebabs over a sizzling grill. "For those who are complaining, I tell them: 'It's 104 degrees for you. Behind this grill, it's 140.' "

Craig Rooke, an actor from Studio City, stepped into the sun to buy a platter of fried Oreos and then darted back inside an air-conditioned building, where he shared them with his wife.

"It's one of those 'when in Rome,' " he said, laughing. "The fair experience comes with chowing down on some deep-fried food."

Several ZIP Codes away, it was cooler along the coast -- but not by much. On the strand in Manhattan Beach, more than 200 volunteers participated in the Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup. Some sweaty volunteers collected a few bags of trash and ducked out early, while others cheerfully helped Heal the Bay staff members hand out sunscreen.

Forecasters said cooler temperatures -- relatively -- will begin Sunday and continue Monday, with highs in the low to mid-90s in downtown L.A. and around 80 near the beaches. In the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys, highs will drop to the upper 80s by Monday.

Cyd Nickles, who just moved to Claremont from Texas with her husband, laughed about the heat while enjoying the fair. She said she couldn't get enough of the area. "We're getting a taste, literally, of Los Angeles," she said, "but we're loving it so far."

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rosanna.xia@latimes.com

Times staff writers Nicole Santa Cruz and Ann M. Simmons contributed to this report.

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