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Fans huddle for warmth during Friday night's games

POSTED: November 30, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Scott Rogers/The Times

Diane Lawrence stays bundled up in the stands at Bobby Gruhn Field as she takes in a Gainesville Red Elephants' game on a cold Friday night. Temperatures dipped in the 30s and are expected to stay that low all weekend.

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Freezing temperatures didn’t stop fans from cheering on their teams Friday night as round two of high school football playoffs continued across the state.

City Park was packed with Red Elephant fans hours before Gainesville took to the field against the visiting Cartersville Purple Hurricanes.

Beth Moore, who was in charge of the Red Elephant tailgate, arrived at City Park around 4 p.m., 3« hours before kickoff.

“I’ve done this before, but this is the coldest game I’ve been to,” Moore said.

Will Carter agreed it was the coldest he’d experienced at City Park.

“I came prepared. It’s not the coldest game I’ve been to but it’s the coldest one at City Park and I’ve been coming here since I was 4,” he said. “It makes me respect the people in the Midwest. I thought about them all day.”

While the temperature was 40 degrees in Gainesville at 4 p.m., it had dropped to 33 by 7 p.m., according to the National Weather Service monitoring station at Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport.

Many braved the cold by piling on layers of clothing in anticipation of spending hours in the freezing temperatures.

“My coworker Sandra (Lykins) looks like a street person,” said Judy Harrison, who was taking tickets at the gate for the Gainesville game. Lykins was wearing five layers of clothing. “It’s the first cold game; we’ve been lucky. We’re not complaining. It’s rained the past two weeks.”

Mike Windhurt said he put on four layers of clothing.

“It’s all about layers,” he said. “The more cheering we do, the warmer we’ll be. As long as Gainesville keeps playing, we’re going to come.”

Similiar freezing temperatures greeted teams and fans who had to travel Friday night for their playoff games. Flowery Branch traveled to Rossville, just across the state line from Chattanooga, to take on Ridgeland, and North Hall went to metro Atlanta to take on Dunwoody.

Jefferson and Buford fans also had frigid weather, but like Gainesville, had the advantage of being at home.

The cold was felt by more than just Friday night football fans, as the mercury didn’t climb any higher than the low 40s all day. Leslie Brooks said Friday afternoon she was surprised it was so cold while she was out walking on the square in downtown Gainesville.

“It’s normally warmer this time of year,” Brooks said. “It was a little warmer (Thursday).”

Brooks said she doesn’t like the cold weather, but hopes that it means there will be more snow for Gainesville over the winter.

“We always just get ice,” she said.

Jerry Emmett said he wasn’t surprised by the quick drop in the temperature because of how suddenly weather can change in Georgia.

“It’s pretty out,” Emmett said, adding, “I’d prefer it a little warmer than this.”

Mike Ferron of Cumming said he was surprised to read such a cold weather report in the newspaper.

“I didn’t expect it to be so cold,” Ferron said. “I was out walking my dog today and he didn’t want to walk more than a block.”

It should warm up a bit throughout the weekend, according to the National Weather Service in Peachtree City. Today should be sunny with a high near 48 and a low around 24 tonight. Sunday is expected to be sunny with a high near 52 and a low Sunday night around 35. There’s a 40 percent chance of showers for Monday, though, with a high forecast around 56.

John Raibikis, also of Cumming, said he was going to try to avoid the cold weather this weekend.
“We’re going to stay in and drink,” he said.

Times reporters Melissa Weinman and Jonathan Zopf contributed to this report.



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