Finding options to stay cool as Thurston County sees some of the hottest weather in the region

Thurston County is one of the hottest areas in western Washington in the July heat wave, with temperatures forecast to reach mid-90s through Saturday.

The City of Lacey hosts its free annual "Lacey in Tune" summer entertainment series at Huntamer Park on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Every Tuesday, families are welcome to see the children’s show of the series. To help people stay cool and comfortable during the event, city staffers hand out free sunglasses and neck coolers.

"It’s going to keep you cool—cooling off that most important part right behind your neck," said Jeannette Sieler, the city’s recreation supervisor.

Lacey in Tune has been a community tradition for the last 29 years. Sieler said the scorching sun hasn’t stopped people from filling up the park to see shows, as there are several trees to provide some shade. 

"We really don’t like to cancel. These are so important to the community. And you know, we’ve had a couple of years where we weren’t gathering together. And last year, crowds were a little smaller, we were trying to get back up gathering and we saw how important it was for the families," said Sieler.

Family time to cool off is what it’s all about for those making a splash at Long Lake.

"This is one of their favorite things to do is swim," said Larry Arlint while visiting the lake with his wife, Kari, and their grandchildren.

Officials: Cool off at beaches where lifeguards are present during heat wave

The hottest temperatures of the year have arrived in western Washington and more people are hitting the open waters to cool off. However, there is a risk involved if people aren’t recreating safely, officials warn. 

The Arlint family makes it a tradition to bring their children and grandchildren to Long Lake every summer, but said they’re noticing the temperatures are getting significantly hotter each year.

"I remember as a child my mother was saying we couldn’t go swimming until it was at least 72 degrees. This was in July and August in the 1950s and 60s. Now look at our temperatures and we’re wondering if it’s going to stay under 90 or 100," said Kari.

For those looking to escape the outdoors, Bob Rancipher and his funky hat are ready to greet guests at Virgil Clarkson Lacey Senior Center.

"I’m not fond of the heat and I try to stay away from the heat as much as I can. So, this is a great place for me," said Rancipher, an ambassador for the senior center.

The air-conditioned facility is open to the public as a cooling center from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Thursday, July 28. Beverages and snacks are also available at the senior center for anyone looking for a comfortable place to spend the hot day. Pets in crates are allowed indoors too.

"The community needs to know that it’s ok for them to come and there's stuff that they can do while they’re here, said Rancipher. "This is the place to be, it really is."

Virgil Clarkson Lacey Senior Center is operated by Senior Services for South Sound. The center is located at 6757 Pacific Ave SE in Lacey.