Winnipeggers enjoy 1st taste of spring with warm temperatures on Saturday

Three weeks after Winnipeg broke a cold-weather record set nearly 150 years ago, people in the city flocked outside to enjoy a beautiful afternoon.

On Feb. 13, Winnipeg’s temperature dipped to –38.8 C, breaking a record set in 1879 by one degree. 

Saturday brought the mercury closer to 8 C. And for Robin Rooke-Hanke, that meant one thing: ice cream at Winnipeg’s iconic Bridge Drive-In, also known as BDI.

“It’s spring. The geese are back [and] BDI is open,” Rooke-Hanke said while eating a bridge bar: vanilla soft serve, fudge and peanuts covered in chocolate.

The ice cream shop opened in 1957 and has been serving up cones, banana splits and milkshakes at the foot of the Elm Park Bridge ever since. It opened its doors for the season on Saturday.

Robin Rooke-Hanke (left) eats an ice cream bar at the Bridge Drive-In on Saturday. (Marouane Refak/Radio-Canada)

Every spring, Preston Hoemsen looks forward to getting the shop’s signature Goog menu item: a concoction involving a thick, upside-down milkshake covered with different toppings.

He came by with his brother and their grandparents and was relieved to see the local business wasn’t forced to close like many others during the pandemic.

“It means a lot that it’s still open,” he said.

Monik Panchhi and his friend Nirusan Jayaranjan were excited to see it was finally nice enough to pull out their motorcycles and go for a ride, stopping for ice cream along the way.

“We’ve been waiting all winter long, itching, looking at the bikes in the garage,” Panchhi said.

Monik Panchhi and Nirusan Jayaranjan went for a motorcycle ride on Saturday, stopping for ice cream along the way. (Marouane Refak/Radio-Canada)

Across town at the Assiniboine Park Zoo, people were also enjoying the warm temperatures — and the chance to get outside and see other people, a day after Manitoba loosened some of its pandemic restrictions to allow groups of 10 to gather outdoors.

For Julia and Carlos Cossolin, it was a chance to get their family outside and let their kids, Beatriz and Cora, burn off some energy after being mostly cooped up in the house for months. The seven- and one-year-old got up at 6 a.m., excited for the big outing.

The parents were also excited about the possibility of getting a COVID-19 vaccine as early as this spring, which the province announced on Friday.

“It feels awesome,” Carlos said. “I think everybody’s just tired [of] not knowing what’s going to be [happening] and staying at home with the kids.”

Both said they’re looking forward to things slowly returning to normal.

“Feeling safe,” Julia said. “I think that’s the most important thing.”

Julia Cossolin was at the zoo with her family on Saturday. (Maroune Refak/Radio-Canada)

Cindy Muirhead was also at the zoo on the weekend. The Brandonite said she grew up coming to the Winnipeg attraction and was excited to get to return with her grandkids from Altona.

Muirhead came out of retirement to work as a teacher again during the pandemic, and is also looking forward to possibly getting vaccinated soon.

“I’d take it yesterday if they would have let me,” she said.