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Lots of ways to cope with heat wave

A woman shades herself from the sun as she walks through the Loop Thursday. Area temperatures are expected to remain in the mid-90s through Friday and area forecasters have issued an "excessive heat warning." | Lou Foglia/Sun-Times

The stifling heat and humidity forecast in Chicago didn’t deter tourists or residents from spending time outside in the sun on Thursday.

It was 88 degrees at noon on Thursday, according to the National Weather Service, but it felt much hotter; add in the 61-percent humidity and the heat index was 95 degrees.

For two Chicagoans, Thursday’s midday heat wasn’t much of a deterrent to their game of Pokemon Go.

“I’m going to end up swimming in the lake,” said Hannah Button-Harrison. She and her friend Quill Duvall sat with one foot each in the water of the Millennium Monument’s fountain.

Quill Duvall and Hannah Button-Harrison cooled their feet in the fountain while having lunch and playing Pokemon Go. | Natalie Watts/Sun-Times
Quill Duvall and Hannah Button-Harrison cooled their feet in the fountain while having lunch and playing Pokemon Go. | Natalie Watts/Sun-Times

Others had a similar idea.

“We were going to try to head to the beach,” said Sylvia Baltierrez. On the way, Baltierrez, her three grandchildren and daughter-in-law stopped at the Crown Fountain’s reflecting pool in Millennium Park. “The kids wanted to get wet,” she said.

The usual crowd of tourists swarmed Cloud Gate (“the Bean”) and State Street, water in hand. And at Randolph and Michigan, Robert Brown set up shop. “Ice cold water!” he yelled, offering bottles for sale from a cooler.

The kids couldn’t wait to get to the beach, so Jocelyn (left), Sylvia, Anthony, Mateo, and Juany (in back) Baltierrez stopped at the Crown Fountain in Millennium Park. | Natalie Watts/Sun-Times
The kids couldn’t wait to get to the beach, so Jocelyn (left), Sylvia, Anthony, Mateo, and Juany (in back) Baltierrez stopped at the Crown Fountain in Millennium Park. | Natalie Watts/Sun-Times

“I’m just trying to hydrate Chicago,” Brown said.

Too bad he wasn’t at Daley Plaza early Thursday, where Sara Disterheft was working at the weekly farmers’ market.

Disterheft, from D & S Farms, arrived about 4:30 a.m., and “it was really hot when we got here,” she said.

Robert Brown was making a little money in the heat, selling bottled water to wilting passersby at Randolph and Michigan. | Natalie Watts/Sun-Times
Robert Brown was making a little money in the heat, selling bottled water to wilting passersby at Randolph and Michigan. | Natalie Watts/Sun-Times

That might be expected outside. But inside, things were even worse at a South Side Burger King where, workers said, the air conditioning has been on the fritz.

“It’s hotter inside than outside,” said Rachel Cockrell, a cook at the restaurant, at 737 E. 47th St. “And the heat wave has only made it worse.”

At 1 p.m. on Thursday, Cockrell said, about six workers walked out. They were joined outside in protest by 20 former employees or other employees who were not scheduled to work.

Cockrell said the air conditioning gave out about 3 months ago. “I’ve been sweating and making people’s food,” she said. “It’s not sanitary.”

She was recently hospitalized for “excessive sweating” and is on pills for a skin infection. Others have experienced “sickness, nausea, and fatigue” because of the heat inside, according to a news release from the activist group Fight for 15, which is pushing for a $15 minimum wage.

Management at the restaurant declined to comment, but Burger King’s media relations department told the Sun-Times that the company respects workers’ rights and that “the franchisee of this location is currently working to resolve this issue.”

Rain that moved through the Chicago area around 1:30 p.m. helped cool things down a little. The National Weather Service expects the temperature to hit the 90s again on Friday. City officials warn Chicagoans to stay in the air-conditioning and shade as much as possible and to stay hydrated.

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