AMESBURY — Temperatures ran into the mid to high 90s for the fourth day in a row on Tuesday but many of the regular cooling spots were not as busy as anticipated.
“The pandemic has gotten people into new habits, I think,” Amesbury Council on Aging director Doreen Arnfield said. “People seem to have established their own routines over the past year and we’re not seeing a lot of them coming back inside like I thought we might. But I think people are just staying at home in this heat.”
According to Arnfield, the doors to the Nicholas J. Costello Transportation building have been open to local seniors looking to cool off but not many people are walking through the door.
“We’re getting people in all of the time but it has been very slow and steady,” she said. “No one is banging down the door right now and most of our programming has been outdoors on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Everything has changed, sometimes daily over the past year and people are probably not sure just what is open and when.”
Salisbury Council on Aging director Elizabeth Pettis had also not seen an uptick in visitors during the recent heat wave and added that she believes many seniors aren’t completely comfortable in social situations right now.
“I’m really not that surprised,“ she said. “I don’t think they’re all that comfortable around other people and a lot of them are still wearing masks.“
According to Pettis, the Hilton Senior Center would normally see between 5 and 25 people spending an hour or two inside it’s air-conditioned halls during a heatwave. But that was not the case this week.
“We also haven’t been having any social activities or lunches in the pandemic so we’re not a part of their regular lifestyle right now,” Pettis said. “But we are open and welcoming people and we are scheduling programming.“
Pettis added that she expects more people will be visiting the senior center after the COA‘s outdoor field day on Wednesday, July 21.
Fred Abdulla is the owner of Joe’s Playland arcade on Salisbury Beach and suggested many of the missing seniors might be on the beach.
“Good weather always brings people to the beach,” Abdulla said. “We were very busy this weekend. Now that everyone can get out, I think they are dying to do it this year. I see people out there, enjoying their freedom and going to the beach and walking around and having a good time.”
According to Abdulla, his biggest concern at the moment is the amount of construction going on in the Broadway Mall where the town is currently building a restroom facility.
“We have to put up with this in the short term on the weekdays but, I guess it’s better for the long-term gain,” he said.
Gerry Morin, the store manager at Amesbury’s Vermette’s Super Market, said his grocery store was experiencing the typical run on frozen treats and ice cream that is normally would during a heatwave.
“It’s all flying out the door,” he said.
Morin was unable to accommodate the Amesbury Elementary School’s request for 300+ popsicles on Tuesday. But he said he had ordered another box on Tuesday morning and would be donating 380 of the frozen treats to AES on Wednesday.
“We know that it can get hot in the school and the kids are all still wearing masks,” Morin said. “This is just a nice thing that we can do.”
Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.