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Sunny skies and warm temperatures marked the first day of Greensboro's City Stage.


Throngs in T-shirts and sunglasses sipped iced coffee and tea, cold soda and beer, as they weaved through downtown Greensboro on Saturday afternoon during the annual City Stage festival.

Festival coordinator Judi Ray put it like this: ``It's the last great suntan of the summer, err, the fall.'City Stage - two days of music, food and crafts - brought more than 75,000 people into downtown's cordoned-off sunlit streets, Ray estimated.

Tennis and walking shoes were the preferred mode of transportation, except for people like Kinsley Sherman who were a wee bit young to walk. For them, and there were many babies, there were baby carriages.

``It's Kinsley's birthday today,' said Chris Sherman, mother of the 1-year-old napping in the stroller. ``We're down here this afternoon, and we have a birthday party planned for later.'

From the blues notes blaring from Stage 7 on Davie Street to the toddler rides near the Greensboro Historical Museum, it all seemed like one big party.

Perhaps the only bored-looking fellow among the multitudes was Tom Hatley, an American Red Cross volunteer at the first-aid booth on Market Street.

``We've had a few blisters,' said Hatley, sitting next to an untouched box of bandages and ointments. ``But that's about it.'

Greensboro police officer Jerry Nidiffer didn't have much to complain about, either.

``It's so peaceful, it's scary,' Nidiffer said with a deep chuckle.

Meanwhile, in front of the Phill G. McDonald Plaza, electric guitar players pounded out progressive rock rifts that may never be heard again around the concrete walls of Greensboro's city hall.

At least until 1 p.m. today, when City Stage resumes.

Weather forecasters call for a 70 percent chance of rain today.

But Ray would hear none of that.

``It's NOT going to rain,' the festival coordinator said with a smile. ``And you can quote me on that.'


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