Madness brings out crowd

The parade, concerts, food, and rides are packed away, and downtown Mint Hill is back to normal, but last weekend, Madness was in full swing, flooding the streets with parade floats, vendors, food, and patrons.

This year’s Madness saw a notable increase in attendance, with record numbers for the Lions Club 5k run and an especially long parade.

“We had a real good event this year, it seemed like there was more thorough planning,” said Bob Lucas, member of the Camber of Commerce Board of Directors. “Certainly the people that visited expressed their appreciation for everything that went on, our vendors developed a lot of contacts in the community, and fireworks came off without a hitch.”

The chamber won’t know their monetary return on the event for a few weeks, when invoices are reported and the Chamber can evaluate the money generated, but so far, reviews from people involved have been positive.

“I was talking to some of my partners in the chamber and we have heard nothing but good reviews—our ride partner had a terrific event, our food vendors had a terrific event,” Lucas said.

Saturday morning, the parade made it all the way through the mile-long route rain-free and with more marchers than usual.

“It’s the first time that anybody can remember there were that many people lined on the street on either side of 51,” Ferretti said. “I think it’s the most we’ve had out there.”

Lucas also noted this year’s larger parade.

“It was really interesting to stand out on Hwy. 51 and look from the intersection of Lawyers Road and look both ways and see the parade lined up as far as you can see,” said Lucas.

Prior to the parade, the Lions Club 5k race drew plenty of attention on its own, with record number of runners.

“The Lions’ 5k race, they were over the top,” Ferretti said. “There was something like 369 registered runners for the race, the most that we’ve ever had.”

The only problem this year was a short rain shower that lasted about an hour, which hardly put a dent in the festivities.

“The only thing is we had that little shower in the middle of the afternoon, but that was out of our control,” Lucas said, “But seemed like everyone hung in there with us and once we looked off to the west, we were able to see some blue sky and wound up, we had a terrific evening.”

Looking to 2013, the Chamber has to rethink the general layout of the event, because the old town hall will be converted to the police station, presenting a

new set of logistical challenges.

“The Chamber’s going to sit down with the mayor and the chief of police and the fire department and everybody that was involved,” Ferretti said.

That conversation should happen by February or March of 2013, with the main concerns being where to put the events and rides that, next year, won’t be able to be located in the same area.

Overall, the event was considered a huge success by the Chamber, Ferretti and Lucas saying that everyone they spoke to gave positive feedback and showed intentions to be back for 2013.

“I think it was fantastic, actually,” Ferretti said. “I’m getting tons of positive feedback, whether it be email, text, or phone calls, I think that it was great this year.”

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Grassroots meteorologist provides Mint Hill forecast

The brain of the Mint Hill weather station: the solar-powered black and white cylinders stand five feet from the ground, measuring temperature, humidity, air pressure, and rain, transmitting data every three seconds, 24 hours a day. PHOTO COURTESY OF CHRIS MULLIS

Mint Hill is home to a weather station that provides a large amount of weather data at the local level. A 34-foot pole stands just a few miles from downtown, measuring temperature, humidity, air pressure, rain, and light, while transmitting data every three seconds to be uploaded to MintHillWeather.com.

The weather station is the solo project of Mint Hill resident Chris Mullis, who grew up in Charlotte, being introduced to the world of science through the Charlotte Amateur Astronomers Club. His passion for astronomy led him to a doctorate degree at the University of Hawaii.

Astronomers develop a relationship with the weather, as they depend on clear skies for observations. They also share with meteorologists the fundamentals of data collecting as scientists. So it was easy for Mullis to cross over to the meteorological world a couple months ago when he constructed his weather station and built his website.

Alongside dozens of charts, graphs, and columns of information are visual aides. The live sky camera, daily videos, and blog illustrating phenomena of the sky provide fascinating visuals from a local perspective. Visitors can see a full-screen lightning flash from last Saturday morning, a meteor from the August 12 Perseid shower, or simply watch the sky grow brighter from the rising sun any given day.

“Visual information is the most powerful type of information,” explained Mullis. “Science begins with observation, and what better way to question the natural world than by looking at it.”

His inspiration for this latest scientific endeavor was in large part his children. As they progress through their education, Mullis wants to keep their curiosities alive. He talks to classrooms of young children about astronomy and meteorology, hoping to instill the importance of questions.

“I’m a grassroots agitator for science education and asking why and questioning the simple stuff; pausing to look and think, ‘why is that?’ I’m taking this weather science and using it as a reason to have a conversation about science and technology. I’m not trying to generate new meteorologists or new astronomers, I’m trying to get kids and citizens to think about science and technology.”

For that reason, he regularly takes out the telescope at home for his children. For special astronomical occasions, the neighborhood kids visit for observations.

MintHillWeather.com was not created just as a tool for teaching science. It’s a useful site for anyone wanting the local weather forecast. Radar images come from Weather Underground in exchange for the high quality data Mullis collects. Current conditions and forecasts provide the casual weather-watcher with the information they need to make the day’s or week’s plans. Scrolling down the home page, more detailed information can be found like precipitation and the UV index, useful for gardeners.

Visitors can also find advisories and astronomical observation charts. The current solar image is always available, illustrating the mind-blowing size of the sun (look for the Earth and Jupiter scale markers). Mint Hill residents can obtain information from the website in a variety of convenient ways. The website is easy to remember and navigate. Following the forecast on Twitter (twitter.com/MintHillWeather) provides live weather conditions on the hour every hour. The Facebook (facebook.com/MintHillWeather) page posts current conditions and the forecast every morning and afternoon. The site also has a mobile version for smart phone use.

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