By Kyle Meenan
First Coast News
JACKSONVILLE, FL –- Winter is officially nine days off, but you'd never know it if you stepped outside Monday night.
Inland areas could see frost by daybreak Tuesday, and homeless people were filling up emergency shelters Monday night.
At the zoo, feathers were ruffled to stave off the cold, where plummeting temperatures and puffed-up plumage got a boost from caretakers.
"We give heat in buildings for all of the large mammals that can go inside," said Donna Bear-Hull, the Zoo's avian curator.
Birds are really good at thermal regulating so they don't need quite as much heat so they get the heat lamps and there are heat mats around the aviary and we also provide windbreaks when it gets really, really cold."
At construction sites throughout the First Coast, workers huddled under thick sweatshirts with leather gloves offering dual protection from rough work and rougher temperatures.
Those unlucky enough to not have heated cabs to work in added extra layers to ward off the big chill.
Out at the Intracoastal, only the brave ventured outdoors at Adventure Landing. Driving past, only one lone golfer clung to his icy metal putter.
Off of San Pablo amidst the earthy smell of pine and a crackling campfire, Judy Thompson sprayed a fine shower from a garden hose on her 'crop' of Christmas trees.
"They came from Piper Mountain in Maine," said Thompson.
"New Berne Maine and actually they (the trees) just appreciate this chilly weather. The colder it gets, the better they'll be!"
The biggest fans of the cold were these folks who came with their trees from the state of Maine sharing a bit of their wintry homeland with us Southerners.
"One or two people have even braved the water and the spraying and wet trees and everything so they've been great!" said Thompson.
Once the trees were sufficiently moistened, it was back to the hearth, glowing red coals and crackling pine boards easing the chill.
"The children that come to pick up the trees, they like that. We've even done the marshmallows and we've had some pretty chilly evenings here!
First Coast News