It is 10:30 a.m., and 1,454 feet above the streets of Chicago a hand stretches up to grasp the upper lip of the Sears Tower. The climb that began at 3 a.m. on the Memorial Day, 1981, one-quarter of a mile straight up from a holiday-deserted East Wacker Drive, has ended at the summit.

And there, waiting as the costume-clad climber clambers over the edge, are the police.

Welcome to summer, Spiderman, a/k/a Daniel Goodwin. You're under arrest.

Professional stuntman Daniel Goodwin, dressed in the bright blue and orange costume of cartoon superhero Spiderman, scaled the west face of the world's tallest building, Chicago's 110-story Sears Tower yesterday, eluding authorities who tried to block his way with a window-washer's scaffold or pull him in through a window.

It was one of the more spectacular events of a weekend sprinkled with the usual footloose-and-fancy-free antics of a nation on holiday.

There were parades across the country, along with barbecues, cold beer and hordes of oiled bodies baking in the sun. Hot-air ballons soared skyward in Amarillo, Tex. There were speeches and wreath-layings as the nation halted its first-weekend-of-summer revelry to observe the reason for the holiday -- to remember the war dead.

Vice President Bush placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider, while elsewhere in Arlington Cemetery 15 former Iran hostages gathered to honor the eight servicemen killed in an attempt to rescue them.

The weekend also held its complement of tragedy, as the warm promise of spring crossed the line into the period of the year known as the Long, Hot Summer.

In Miami, four picnickers were shot and wounded Sunday, one critically, by a motorist who had angered beachgoers with his reckless driving on crowded Key Biscayne Beach. The motorist opened fire on a group of picnickers -- one of whom had earlier traded blows with him -- wounding himself in the process. He sped off in his car, but two carloads of outraged spectators caught up with him and "hit him in the face a couple of times" before police intervened and put him under arrest.

Earlier Sunday, an angry crowd attacked two emergency medical workers for taking 16 minutes to get to the scene of a car accident. One of the workers was bitten on the arm and stomach and his colleague suffered sprains.

Late yesterday the death toll from holiday traffic accidents stood at 343.

In Phoenix, 77-year-old Gladys Kastensmith celebrated Memorial Day by sipping bourbon while keeping her .38-caliber revolver trained on a would-be burglar who attempted to enter her home through a doggie door.

"She had him down on all fours and told him if he moved she'd shoot him," a police spokesman said. "He moved and she said [to police], 'Just a minute, honey,' and then kablam!" She fired at least one shot to keep him from moving, police said, and he was still on all fours when they arrived.

But for most Americans yesterday was a day for leisure. Beaches were packed along the East Coast -- 80,000 sun-slaked souls at Massachusetts' Revere Beach and 100,000 at Delaware's Rehoboth Beach.

For the meteorologically minded, the summer solstice won't be here for nearly a month -- at 6:45 a.m. (EDT) June 21, to be exact. But the Memorial Day weekend suffices, for the less scientific, as the seasonal divide.

"People sense a freedom in the summer months that they didn't feel in cold months," says William Sedlacek, assistant director of the counseling center at the University of Maryland. "Summer ends up being a kind of symbol of relaxation and vacations and things. For a lot of people this is very healthy, a chance to renegotiate relationships with other people and the environment."

After an inch-by-inch, 7 1/2-hour renegotiation of his environment -- the third, and first successful, climb of the Sears Tower -- Goodwin, 25, of Las Vegas, is hauled to the Central District lockup, charged with disorderly conduct, criminal trespass and criminal damage to property.

The two patrolmen who have come to take him away ask him why he did it. "Are you nuts?" they say, or words to that effect.

"You can't be nuts to do this," Goodwin replies. "It takes total concentration."