Some like it cold: ‘This weather is gold,’ state tourism chief proclaims


BY MELINDA TICHELAAR
mtichelaar@kenoshanews.com
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Hate the weather? Don’t tell that to the secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism.

“This weather is gold!” Stephanie Klett said Tuesday, as the “high” temperature in Kenosha hovered around 7. “It is perfect for snowmobiling, snow tubing, downhill skiing. We love it. It’s the best thing that can happen!”

Winter tourism in Wisconsin brings in $2.5 billion a season, Klett said. The agency won’t see official totals for 2013-14 for months, but anecdotally, tourism-related business are seeing “phenomenal” numbers, she said.

If going outside to play is not your thing, Wisconsin offers plenty of winter getaways that don’t involve gloves, hats and long underwear, Klett pointed out. Door County hotels and spas are offering deals, some at 50 percent off summer rates.

Don’t want to drive that far? Go shopping, she said. The parking lot at Premium Outlets in Pleasant Prairie was “packed” when she stopped by last weekend.

Winter ‘opportunity’

You might look at the thermometer and think, “misery.” Jake Hoey thinks, “Opportunity.”

Hoey is a Kenosha native with a degree in meteorology and he is geeked out about the weather.

“This kind of opportunity doesn’t come up that often,” he said, referring to the chance to watch steam come off the harbor on one recent frigid day. Hoey runs a Facebook page called “Jake’s Kenosha Area Weather Page,” promotes Kenosha in his part-time job at the tourism bureau visitors’ center on Interstate 94 and considers himself a champion for the frost.

“I like it here,” he said. “In fact, I would move north if I could.”

Hoey graduated from the University of Oklahoma last year and was psyched for his first real winter in five years. So far, Wisconsin has not disappointed. But, there’s always someplace colder.

“I’m applying for jobs in Alaska,” he said.

Escape plan

In contrast, there are folks who take one look outside and start thinking about escape. La Macchia travel agent Maria Bonnano said the Caribbean, Mexico, Florida and Arizona are popular with Kenosha residents.

“Our clients are always looking for warm weather destinations. A lot of people take a vacation at the end of January or February every year when cabin fever hits,” she said.

Does Bonnano?

“I am a winter person,” she said. “It doesn’t bother me. I love the snow.”

Readers sound off on Facebook

Here’s what Kenosha News Facebook followers had to say about what they think of Wisconsin’s winter weather, and how they deal with it:

Isabel Campos: “I actually like the experience. I’m from Texas, and change was good. I always wanted to see snow as a child. I’m guessing my dream came true when I moved here.”

Kevin Aney: “Dress warm, drink lots of water and stop complaining. We live in Wisconsin and we know how it can get.”

Marni Sirks: “We’ve been spoiled for many years having mild winters. It seems like when I was a kid, these were normal temps.”

Judy Vernezze: “Love the weather, need more snow! The snowmobile trails are calling my name.”

Michelle Dawn: “So sick of it!”

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