What Hurricane Matthew?
On Friday, bored but relieved South Floridians took to local museums, bars, restaurants, shopping centers and beaches seeking to unwind after spending the previous day shut up in their homes with their families and their fears. As Matthew moved north, South Floridians moved about.
Here is how people from Fort Lauderdale to Boca Raton celebrated the South Florida version of a snow day.
'I knew it wasn't coming'
Things were pretty much back to normal Friday morning on Sistrunk Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale. People were out taking down shutters, returning to work, running errands and doing a little shopping. Or they were just relaxing, enjoying a day off.
That's what Brunella Clark was doing Friday morning. The Fort Lauderdale resident said she didn't lose power at home and got through the storm through "prayer and Jesus."
"I knew it wasn't coming," Clark said, adding that she planned to "hang out a little bit until it starts raining and then go back home."
Surfing and SUP'ing
A Category 4 hurricane barreling toward Florida's coast? Roray Kam went surfing.
As Matthew rolled toward Broward and Palm Beach counties, the Broward Sheriff's Office employee found head-high waves off Lauderdale-by-the-Sea's turbulent shoreline. While people were shopping for last-minute hurricane supplies, Kam paddled out and stayed in the water for 12 hours. Tourists gawked. He ignored them, and left about 7 p.m.
He came back Friday for standup paddleboarding with 28 friends, savoring the waves before the surf fell flat.
"We're storm chasers, that's what we do," said Kam, 48, gripping his checkered black paddleboard in the midday sun. "As a surfer, I hope for a good storm, as long as it stays 200 miles offshore and not hurting anyone."
From cabin to cabin
Melissa Akar spent Friday morning behind the cockpit of a DC-9 and an FA-18 Blue Angel with her children, 9-year-old Malik and 23-month-old Dalia.
Overcome with a serious case of cabin fever, the trio decompressed in the aviation-themed exhibit "To Fly" at the Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale. On Friday, the museum ran a "Hurricane Matthew Stress Relief Day" promotion, offering half-price admission to IMAX films and exhibits.
Learning to pitch, yaw and roll a plane sure beat Thursday's thrills: slapping up hurricane shutters and watching movies on TV.
"I tried to run out the kids' energy with bad movies. When that didn't work, we came here," said Akar, a stay-at-home writer who noted that the hurricane prep was more stressful than the actual storm. "Now, we're going to check out some ice cream."
Fort Lauderdale attorney Bernie Cassidy has braved Hurricanes Charlie, Georges, Katrina and, now, Matthew. His canine companion, Max, has survived two of them.
Max arched his legs excitedly while Cassidy and his wife, Valerie, 41, sat down to mahi-mahi sandwiches at Tarpon Bend Bait and Tackle in downtown Fort Lauderdale. An 11-year-old, shaggy black mutt with bushy eyebrows and white-speckled fur, Max was a puppy in Mississippi when Hurricane Katrina pummeled the Gulf Coast in 2005. In the storm's aftermath, Max was sent to a Broward County shelter, where the Cassidys adopted him.
"I don't think [Max] remembers that hurricane at all, but he'll remember this one," said Bernie Cassidy, whose day off included "yardwork and Xbox, basically."
"We all had to get out of the house and have fun today," he said.
Unprepared in the park
Vlad Teyubov lucked out when Matthew skirted, and didn't smack, South Florida on Thursday. After scouring three Publix stores for water, he came up dry. He couldn't find a cooler to store refrigerated items, either.
So the 30-year-old spent Friday afternoon strolling Mizner Park in Boca Raton with his wife, Daria, and daughter Yana, 2.
"We weren't prepared as much as everyone else," said Teyubov, who ate lunch at posh Italian restaurant Villagio. "We were waiting for the worst, and when it left, we were just relieved."
As the sun pierced the overcast sky for the first time Friday afternoon, Pablo Stinson, of Plantation, assessed his haul on Anglin's Beach Pier in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea: plenty of blue fish and mackerel.
The 44-year-old released the catch with son Colby, 11, and daughter Anabelle, 13. Colby, excited to miss school, did most of the work, said Stinson, a physical therapist who arrived at 10:30 a.m.
"We feel fortunate," he said. "We felt pressure to prepare, and now it's over. It's hard to feel disappointed that the hurricane missed us. We already saw the devastation Matthew caused in Haiti."
email@example.com or 954-356-4364