(reproduced in its entirety from The Badger Herald:)
Fed up with winter, Madison won’t take it anymore
by Jacquelyn Ryberg
Monday, March 10, 2008
Despite remaining snow and persistently cold temperatures, Mayor Dave Cieslewicz on Friday declared the official start of spring in Madison was Sunday at 2 a.m.
Typically the official start of spring is March 20, but a suggestion from Darren Bush, owner of a local paddle sport shop called Rutabaga, persuaded Cieslewicz to move the date up two weeks because of unusually harsh conditions citizens had to endure this winter.
According to George Twigg, spokesperson for Cieslewicz, the mayor wanted citizens to look forward to spring and forget about subzero temperatures and record snowfall experienced over the past months.
“It has been a long winter — tough all around,” Twigg said. “I think everyone is looking forward to spring and getting back out on the Union Terrace and enjoying some warm weather.”
A leisurely bike ride gone wrong triggered Bush’s proposal to push the date back to March 9, he said.
“I went for a bike ride last Sunday, hit some ice and went down really hard,” Bush said. “That made me really grumpy, and I said we are done. I called the mayor’s office, and I thought he would ignore it, but it worked.”
Bush said he spoke with University of Wisconsin astronomy professor Jim Lattis to see exactly how to make spring come earlier.
According to Lattis, the actual advancement of spring would require a large object, such as Jupiter, to increase the gravitational pull on Earth, which would cause serious ramifications.
“There would be environmental problems in causing the earth to shift so rapidly,” Lattis said. “It would change ocean currents, disrupt tidal patterns and just all kinds of stuff that would certainly have permanent effects.”
Lattis said this suggestion was impractical and proposed to simply change the date, although this would not change the weather any sooner.
“The time change is something we do have control over,” Lattis added. “Symbolically we have declared spring by the changing of the clocks, but it is kind of an arbitrary choice as to when to declare spring.”
According to Bush, the early declaration might make spring come a little earlier this year.
“It is kind of like Peter Pan; if everyone just wishes really hard it will happen,” Bush said. “If we can talk ourselves into a recession, we can talk ourselves into spring.”
Lattis said the mayor’s decision to officially start spring early would get citizens’ minds looking ahead.
“We need some psychological relief, and we need some reason to start thinking about spring,” Lattis said. “It is really a matter of what we all agree to do together. If we all agree to start acting like it’s spring, I think it will change our attitude and make us all be a little happier.”
According to Twigg, the mayor agrees the early declaration will convince citizens to look ahead to warm weather.
“Every little bit helps,” Twigg said. “Spring is a state of mind to some degree, so let us declare it spring and hope for the best.”