From the Editors
Good news from the top-down
Most people appreciate a good roof over their heads; most people also appreciate an excuse to be without one. Summer provides plenty of alibis to go "topless": outdoor festivals, barbeques, and pool parties. Convertibles, motorcycles, and bicycles. Open water, open sky, and open-ended plans. Erieites appreciate these things more than most — on average, the city gets only 157 days of sunshine to play with annually. According to a 2015 study by the CDC and NASA measuring average daily sunlight in counties across the contiguous U.S., Erie County (PA) ranked 2,896th out of 3,111 between 1979 and 2011. That's in the bottom seven percent.
So, yes, while Erie is sometimes dreary, it is also often opportunistic; we definitely make our 157 sunny days and 14,146 kilojoules of solar radiation per square meter count. We eagerly flock to Presque Isle Bay and Lake Erie for sunbathing, swimming, fishing, and boating. We happily crack open a cold one on our porch, deck, or patio (or a local watering hole's). And we loyally form lines at our favorite ice cream stands across the county (many of them the same ones we grew up with).
Few other confections are as nostalgic or synonymous with summer as ice cream, the sweet frozen foam we pile into bowls, cups, and cones. In this issue, Nick Warren gives us the scoop on a few of the many businesses that dish it out, both seasonally (Sara's and The Freezerie) and year-round (national franchise locations like Dairy Queen). Of course, during your travels, you may encounter other ice cream-like substances that are not advertised as such. To curb your curiosity, Matt Swanseger digs into the details and definitions (some of them legally mandated!) of items such as frozen custard, frozen yogurt, gelato, and more.
And when the sun goes down, Erie County is still out and about — whether it's downtown or at a more quaint locale like the drive-in. Jonathan Burdick speaks to the owners of the Sunset Drive-In in Waterford, a treasured relic of a bygone era still serving moviegoers today. There's something liberating about catching a fun summer flick under the stars; it makes that sweet country air smell a little sweeter.
The city will also breathe more freely if the Erie Coke plant, a repeated violator of environmental regulations and detriment to many east-siders' health and quality of life, were to shut down (as it has been court-ordered to). Everyone deserves a breath of fresh air, just as they do a roof over their heads. There's no better time to celebrate those rights than Independence Day. The Reader staff wishes everyone a happy and safe Fourth of July.