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Erik Burgess, Published March 01 2014

I'll have a chilly bar: Moorhead Dairy Queen opens

MOORHEAD- Dilly Bar? More like Chilly Bar.

Not even record-breaking sub-zero temperatures and wind chill warnings could keep Moorhead’s Eighth Street Dairy Queen from opening Saturday, a tradition started years ago by previous owners and continued today by owners Troy and Diane DeLeon.

“It doesn’t matter what the weather is. Tradition trumps temperature,” Diane DeLeon said.

Fargo set the record for coldest high temperature ever in the month of March on Saturday with a high of minus 11, said WDAY Meteorologist Daryl Ritchison. The previous record was minus 7 set on March 7, 1948.

Fargo also shattered its previous record for coldest high temperature for March 1. The previous record was minus 2, Ritchison said, though he couldn’t when that previous record was set.

“I don’t often get surprised by the weather, but even I’m a bit surprised,” said Ritchison, who had earlier forecast that Fargo would hover around zero degrees Saturday.

“We even bought hand warmers this year, and we’ve never, ever done that,” Diane DeLeon said.

Saturday was the twelfth time Fargo has had a negative high in March since the official record began in 1881, Ritchison said.

If we get another negative high today, it’d only be the second or third time on record that that’s ever happened twice in March, Ritchison said.

Then we should be in the clear, with high temps staying above zero for good starting Monday, he said. Lows could still be in the negatives, he said.

“A negative high, I just wouldn’t fathom that happening again this year after (Sunday),” Ritchison said.

Chattering customers

Teeth chattered as customers chatted in line at the Dairy Queen about the tradition of coming on March 1, although, some of the orders may have changed a bit considering the conditions.

“I was gonna get ice cream. Then I came out here,” said Grant Ishaug. The 18-year-old student at Minnesota State University Moorhead eventually ordered a hot dog, with some added emphasis on the “hot.”

Despite the conditions, business was good and lines of bundled customers were consistent, the DeLeons said.

Jewell Fiskness of Moorhead was in line picking up some ice cream for her neighbors, whose 13-year-old daughter usually comes out on opening day but was sick Saturday.

“This place is just amazing,” Fiskness said.

The popular items Saturday included polish sausages, hot barbeque sandwiches and hot dogs, the DeLeons said. They’ve owned the Moorhead staple for 19 years.

“I bet, before the end of the day, we’ll have gone through 40 pounds of barbeque, for sure,” Diane DeLeon said.

But customers weren’t necessarily dodging the cold treats in favor of hot food, Troy DeLeon said.

“My hands are still frozen from making Blizzards,” he said with a laugh.

For Diane DeLeon, that’s what makes March 1 so sweet.

“Everybody gets their favorites, so it’s a little bit of everything today,” she said. “That’s the best part of opening day.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518