In Pinellas, tourists find warm welcome from northern freeze - FOX 13 News

In Pinellas, tourists find warm welcome from northern freeze

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While many locals shivered and grumbled, visitors to Pinellas county enjoyed relatively warm temperatures.

"We just arrived, so this is tropical for us. we just flew in a couple of hours ago from Milwaukee," Eric Lathrop said while strolling through Johns Pass Village.

He left -18 weather with a -40 wind chill, so Madeira Beach?

"Walk in the park," Lathrop said. "My ears are a little tingly, but at least I can feel my toes and the rest of my body."

Candice Meo of Springfield, Ohio, was another happy shopper.

"It's not a sand day, no, but it's really not that cold to me," Meo opined. "I talked to a friend last night who said it was minus 32 degrees wind chill."

Joy Zasadny visited the St. Pete Pier, describing the half-mile walk around the shuttered structure as a springtime walk.

"My friends were sending me messages yesterday saying it was negative 30 up there, so I thought, hey this is not bad," Zasadny said, adding of course her friends are envious of her Florida visit. "It's like a 60 degree difference at least so anything's better than being up there right now."

Business was notably slow in the Village and in downtown St. Petersburg, where no one enjoyed lunch at any of Beach Drive's sidewalk cafes. A clerk in a shoe store complained "When it's cold, a lot of people don't want to take off their shoes...they're afraid to try on shoes because they don't want to get their feet cold, even though the store is warm."

She acknowledged that under the circumstances, her own choice of footwear defied local customs.

"Why flip flops? Because I'm a Floridian and that's what I'm comfortable in," she explained.

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