As the temperature flirted with 100 degrees Sunday, Sebastian the Siberian husky padded his way into the mist floating over Fayetteville Street, taking a hungry gulp.
The asphalt turned so hot for Raleigh’s food truck rodeo that the organizers put up a set of eight sprinkler heads on towers, inviting the crowds to hydrate.
People squinted as they passed through the water. Children waved their arms and danced as if somebody opened a fire hydrant. And Sebastian, perhaps longing for his native tundra, flapped his parched tongue.
“Look, he’s trying to attack the water,” said Kaylagh Slaven, his owner.
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With summer’s official beginning only one week away, health officials are urging caution to avoid heat-related illness.
“It is critical for people to take preventive action since North Carolina summers can be dangerously hot,” said Randall Williams, state health director. “Whether you are outside for work or recreation, gardening or attending outdoor festivals and events, make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids to minimize risk of heat-related illness.”
In a press release, the state noted that Operation Fan/Heat Relief offers some people 60 or older and others with disabilities the chance to receive one fan per year to help alleviate heat problems in their homes.
At the food truck rodeo Sunday, the crowds that filled Fayetteville Street considered dumplings, Korean barbecue and gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches worth the risk. Fans the size of airplane propellers aimed cool air at passers-by, who came equipped with their own forms of precaution: straw hats, umbrellas, bare feet and face-sized ice cream cones.
On a park bench, a volunteer helped a family recently relocated from Long Island to register to vote in North Carolina. As the former northerners filled out the form, they noted that they were now paying the price for the mild winter that drew them south.
For some, no relief was available. The Raleigh Rockers breakdancing crew spread a mat out on the pavement to perform flips and head spins, their foreheads shiny with sweat. At one point, they asked for three volunteers to squat on the street as human obstacles for them to vault over – heat or no heat.
And as the air hovered around 95 degrees, Sebastian made his way back into the sprinkler mist, cooling his thick fur.