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The Tease of a Summer Breeze

Air-Conditioning Abandoned for Kites, Picnics and River Fun

By David Cho
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 8, 2004; Page C01

Yesterday was a day to be outside, a rare bit of autumn in August.

Cool, fresh air continued to sweep in from Canada, breaking the usual summer pattern of oppressive heat, humidity and late-afternoon thunderstorms. More brisk weather is forecast for today.

Raj Riswadkar plays with his son, Rohan, on the Mall. Riswadkar and his family are from New Jersey. Kites, paddle boats, kayaks and canoes were out by the dozens yesterday. (Cathy Kapulka -- The Washington Post)

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"How often do you get to fly a kite, have a picnic and not be drenched in sweat?" asked Kevin Lucia, 33, of Northwest Washington, who was setting up a picnic with his family beneath an elm tree on the Mall. "It's unbelievable. I can't remember the last time we had a day like this in D.C. recently."

Along the Mall, as in many places across the region, most everyone was talking about the brilliant sun and refreshing breezes. The wind was strong enough to lure kite enthusiasts, whose aerial sails danced around the Washington Monument. At the Tidal Basin, a navy of blue paddle boats moved across the water. A young couple napped on a blanket underneath a cluster of cherry trees.

"The weather is magnificent. . . . It's a lot like October weather," said Jose Vaisberg, 45, of Caracas, Venezuela, who was enjoying the last day of a weeklong vacation in Washington. Yesterday's high reached 77 degrees; the average is 89 degrees.

Vaisberg said he scrapped plans to tour the Smithsonian Institution museums, instead staying outside and buying a fish-shaped kite for his 9-year-old niece, Nicole. He spent the afternoon happily watching her run around the Mall with the colorful fish flapping in the wind behind her.

There was a divine touch behind the weather, said the Rev. David Wilkerson, who brought his 140-member youth gospel choir from Times Square Church in New York City for a concert near the Capitol steps.

He said that for two months, the children had been praying for good weather. Rain dominated forecasts leading up to the event.

But yesterday, with those storms past, the youths lifted their hallelujahs to the sunny skies, filling the Mall with Christian gospel music and worship as a crowd of about 1,000 people raised their hands and danced.

"To us, this [weather] is an answer to prayer," he said.

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