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Rogue Valley programs persevere in extreme heat

Record-breaking temperatures have forced organizations throughout the Rogue Valley to devise creative ways to avoid costly cancellations of their outdoor programs this summer.

The Rogue Valley YMCA had to move its recent rock climbing outing at Emigrant Lake to earlier in the day, meaning a 5 a.m. wakeup time for some kids. The YMCA also uses its pool and the nearby air-conditioned Central Medford High School to keep kids happy and safe when temperatures begin to creep dangerously high. Transportation can be a challenge, but frequent water breaks and moving outdoor activities indoors are all preferable to cancellations, said Executive Director Brad Russell.

“We’re committed to always running the programs,” Russell said. 

The outdoor concerts at the Britt Festivals in Jacksonville kicked off during the hottest June on record, but Marketing Director Sara King Cole said all shows will continue as planned. Attendees are encouraged to bring extra water and take the free trolley, which runs from 6 p.m. until concert time from all parking lots in Jacksonville to Britt's main gate.

In Ashland, actors in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's outdoor Allen Elizabethan Theatre shows keep plenty of water and sometimes ice packs backstage to help cool them down between scenes, said Media and Communications Manager Amy Richard. Audience members are likewise encouraged to stay hydrated. For the free Green Shows, which begin at 6:45 p.m. on the outdoor bricks, performers are typically wearing lighter dress, but the performances can be physically demanding.

“So far, nothing’s been canceled, but it is a possibility in extreme cases,” Richard said.

Rich Rosenthal, assistant director at Medford Parks and Recreation, noted that although some daytime practices for teams have been canceled, he expected most games to go on as scheduled. He said the Jackson Aquatic Center and spray parks around Medford have been busier than ever.

“We’re very sensitive to making sure that our participants are careful with their health and safety,” Rosenthal said.

Some local baseball teams have moved practices up to earlier in the mornings, and coaches say they're keeping a sharp eye on their athletes to make sure they stay hydrated.

June's average high temperature was 91.3 degrees, the hottest since records started being kept in Medford in 1911. The mercury shot into triple digits five days, and 21 days hit 90 degrees are higher.

But Rogue Valley residents can expect a small measure of relief this week. The National Weather Service predicts highs will drop steadily until they hit the high 80s on Thursday. 

Reach reporting intern Kaylee Tornay at ktornay@mailtribune.com.

Chyanne Landberg, 9, of Medford, hits up the slide at the Medford YMCA on Friday to keep cool. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch