Siesta Key visitors swap bathing suits for coats and scarves

9:27 PM, Jan 7, 2014   |    comments
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Photo Gallery: Cold temps take over Siesta Beach!
Siesta Key Beach



Siesta Key, Florida - It's a picture perfect day on Siesta Key. Beach weather? Sure!

"The temperature is in the mid 40s!" says Scott Ruberg, Siesta Key Beach lifeguard.

It's just not bathing suit weather, and that includes the lifeguards. "Sweatpants I wear 4-5 times a year and socks. I don't even want to be seen socks," says Scott, but it's cold enough for him to wear both.

PHOTOS: Cold temps take over Siesta Beach!

The key to staying warm is to keep moving, according to Oliver Rau, a visitor from Germany. He and his friends are building a sandcastle on their last day on the beach before heading back home Thursday. "It's much warmer in Germany right now, but compared to up north we're lucky," says Oliver.

It's never too cold for Wister the Siberian Husky visiting from Memphis. Despite the weather, his owner, Lynn Bowers, says Wister gets his exercise every day. He runs alongside her low-riding bike. "I control the breaks and steering he controls the speed if he wants to," explains Lynn.

Wister's built-in fur coat keeps him warm while Lynn bundles up. "I've got four layers on. I've got a fleece, then another fleece, and another, and then got my shirt. I'm not going any further," says Lynn as she laughs.

"How many layers are you wearing?" Lynn asks this 10 News reporter. I say, "Not enough apparently. I'm a little chilly."

Plus, I forgot my gloves.

Lynn says she's ready to shed a layer or two of clothes to cool off before her and Wister continue to ride. How does Wister cool off? "He drinks ice water on the trail," says Lynn.

If the wool coats, scarves, and gloves beachgoers are wearing is not enough indication of how cold the water is, the lifeguards on Siesta Key have put out a new unofficial warning flag near the shore that says "Cold Water." The white colored flag has two water bottles posted on it. "We put it out for some amusement today," says Scott. He says the flag is from a triathlon.

But joke aside, the water is cold. It's 63 degrees! Scott says, "You go in the water, freeze like an icicle coming out."

Getting customers to come out and dine on the Key during lunch time is a challenge. "Usually we're packed, the tables are full, people enjoying the sun," says Tim Wong, general manager for The Hub, The Beach Club and The Cottage Restaurants on Siesta Key.

The Hub staff use a creative marketing technique and post hand-made, "We're open, it's warm" welcome signs and fire up some heaters to try and heat up business.

"We're open for business. Got to get people come off the street, come in," says Tim. He spots a couple driving by and says, "There's people right there, come on in. The food is good, the drinks are good."

By late afternoon, islanders and visitors head outside and bring some life back to the Village, even if they are wearing a coat, scarf, and gloves.