Near-record temperatures makes golf a post-dinner calorie-burning possibility.
For Thanksgiving dinner this year, Minnesotans might be choosing the patio seating.
High temperatures in the mid to upper 50s in southern Minnesota -- perhaps a record-tying 59 in the Twin Cities -- and upper 40s in the north are likely to have thankful families flocking outdoors Thursday, if not for picnics certainly for walks in the park.
In Minneapolis, several public golf courses that were covered with the season's first snow on Saturday will be open for play.
"It's not like we're having to do a lot of mowing or greens maintenance," said Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board spokeswoman Dawn Summers. "We have people who want to play golf. I know my husband would rather be golfing than watching TV."
Thanksgiving Day highs in the 50s are relatively rare historically, though not recently. Thursday will bring the 10th occurrence in 120 years, but the fourth since 1998, according to state climatology records. A high of 59 Thursday would tie the record for the date and threaten the Thanksgiving Day record of 62, reached in 1914 and 1922.
Historically, one in three Thanksgivings has snow on the ground in the Twin Cities, but Tuesday and Wednesday's warmth -- the high Wednesday was 52 -- wiped out the messy 3 inches that fell Saturday. Most of Minnesota was snow-free Wednesday; an arc from St. Cloud northeast to the Arrowhead and back west to Lake of the Woods was blanketed by 2 to 4 inches, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.
In Minneapolis, the Wirth Park golf course will not be open, Summers added, because it's being converted to winter use by skiers and snow tubers.
The Columbia, Gross, Fort Snelling and Meadowbrook golf courses will be open, and Hiawatha will be on temporary greens.
Another thing to be thankful for outdoors Thursday: no bugs. Metropolitan Mosquito Control District spokesman Mike McLean said the chances of mosquitoes making a brief comeback are "virtually nil."
At the Minneapolis Farmers Market, Christmas tree sellers were undaunted by the burst of warmth Wednesday, setting up hundreds of trees in stands and stringing more from the rafters in preparation for the day after Thanksgiving, which could be called Christmas-Tree-on-the-SUV Day.
Dan Swan, whose family has been growing Christmas trees near Prentice, Wis., since 1966, said he doesn't expect the warm weather to depress holiday buyers.
"It'll be a perfect weekend to decorate outside," he said. "The warmer it is, the more people get out there and string lights. I expect we'll sell a lot of garlands."
Bill McAuliffe • 612-673-7646