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Cold enough for ya?
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Tourists in Duluth bundled up this weekend. (MPR Photo/Chris Julin)
People in Duluth had to wait an extra day for fireworks. On the 4th of July, a fog bank rolled in and the fireworks were called off. Fog and cool weather are no surprise in Duluth, but this summer has been extra chilly. Tourism officials say it's driving visitors indoors, but not away.

Duluth, Minn. — If you've ever been to Duluth, you've heard the phrase, "colder by the lake." It's a standard line in summer weather forecasts. But by July 5, the normal high is 75 degrees. Today, however, the official temperature at noon was 48 degrees. And there was a flag-snapping wind right off the lake.

Down on the water in the tourist district, people were wearing rain jackets and nylon windbreakers, and a few of them had their hoods pulled up.

Amanda Kurta drives a horse drawn carriage along the waterfront. Her carriage and two others were sitting idle this afternoon. Most the tourists seemed to be heading home early. She had lots of customers early in the weekend. On Saturday it was warm - up to 79 degrees.

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Image Amanda Kurta

"It's been kind of slow when the weather's icky," she said. "We have polar fleece blankets, and windows we can put on our carriages. It's been cold."

Average high temperatures were several degrees below normal in May and June in Duluth. And the city didn't see an 80 degree day until June 29. The last time it took that long to get an 80 degree day was 1935.

So tourists are staying inside a bit more than usual, but they're still coming to Duluth, according to Terry Mattson, the executive director of the Duluth Convention and Visitors' Bureau.

"The local forecast isn't really a big deterrent on bringing people to town any time of the year," Mattson said. "Actually, a day like today that's kind of cool and breezy is typically very, very strong for the attractions."

Tourists do less beachcombing and more museum-hopping when the weather's like this.

But the Wylie family was outside. They came up from the Twin Cities for the weekend. They spent more time than usual swimming in the hotel pool on this trip, but they still spent time by the lake.

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Image Tour boat

Teri Wylie's watched her kids play on the rocks as waves came crashing in. She wore long pants and long sleeves, and she had a beach towel clutched around herself like a blanket. The wind pulled her hair straight back from her head, and made a tear run down her cheek.

"We don't mind the cold so much," she said. "We're true Minnesotans, so we spent most of the afternoon - probably three or four hours yesterday - running around Duluth. We'll come back again despite the cold. We love it up here."

"I like climbing on the rocks," said 10-year-old Paxton Wylie. "I think it's a great adventure."

She's willing to come back to Duluth and give this another.

"I'm very willing to come back," she said. "It's fun here. I want to go to college here."

Paxton Wylie wore a long-sleeve shirt but no jacket. She said she's not the kind of person who lets it show when she's cold.

Ryan Latta doesn't have that kind of Minnesota pride. He's from Indiana, and he didn't look happy standing in the wind. He was visiting his in-laws in Duluth, and posing for some family snap-shots next to the lake. He wore a thin, spring windbreaker, and he'd balled his bands into fists against the chill.

"We're used to, like 80 degrees maybe 90," he said.

Without the family connection, he'd have to think twice about coming back to Duluth.

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Image Ryan Latta and family

"Maybe if it was warm," he said with a laugh. But he'd check the forecast first.

Most Duluth tourists are apparently pretty hardy. At the Convention and Visitors' Bureau, Terry Mattson said the number of tourists is holding steady this summer. "The unseasonably cool temperatures have extended to our major markets, like the Twin Cities," he said. "So, we've remained fairly strong through all of this."

The extended forecast calls for cooler than usual temperatures for the rest of the summer. But Mattson's confident there'll be some sticky, hot weekends in the rest of the state. When that happens, he's guessing below-normal temperatures in Duluth will be a selling point.

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