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Claire de Lune Coffee Lounge
2906 University Avenue, North Park

Is this place on fire? Seems like smoke is coming out from under the sidewalk overhang. Then you see people dancing in it! Holding their arms out. Yelling. "Too cool!" "It's Arizona Mist," says Claire Magner who opened the place in March 1997, then set up the misting a year and a half ago. "It's what they have at Tiger River in the San Diego Zoo." She uses filtered water pumped at 1000 psi to fine-spray and cool your skin by "flash evaporation," cooling you the same way sweat does. Plus it forms a curtain at the door to keep the inside cool, too, without traditional air-conditioning. Bus drivers stop outside to get a whoosh of it. Customers can sit and read books under it. They and their books stay dry and cool in full sunlight. Looking from afar, you'd swear the place was billowing smoke, but the fire department knows all about it, and it's cool with them.

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