NEWBURYPORT — Temperatures soared into the 90s on Wednesday, but those looking to cool off in a city building were out of luck.

Thanks to the YWCA Greater Newburyport and The Salvation Army, plenty of people got a chance to beat the heat for free anyway.

“Most of the people were coming in because of the heat,” said Corps Captain Jessica Berkhoudt of The Salvation Army. “We had some people who came in and out. But most just wanted to come in and sit down, get a glass of water, or a cup of coffee and chill. No pun intended.”

Many residents take advantage of city buildings to cool off on hot days and Wednesday certainly qualified as one of those days as the humidity rose as well.

But since it was Juneteenth and a federal holiday, Mayor Sean Reardon’s chief of staff, Andrew Levine, said none of the city’s air-conditioned public buildings – such as the Senior/Community Center and Newburyport Public Library – were open.

YWCA Greater Newburyport hosted its second annual Juneteenth block party after the city’s flag-raising ceremony at noon.

The block party included a free public swim with the activities scheduled to take place both inside and outside the Market Street building.

But YWCA Youth Services Director Amanda Bradbury said Thursday that the blistering heat drove everyone indoors.

“A lot of people, including our vendors and entertainers, we’re very thankful we had a plan to accommodate them,” she said.

Bradbury also chairs the YWCA’s Racial Justice Committee.

She said she worked with the city’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Alliance to make sure the YWCA was able to take over the holiday celebration once the flag-raising ceremony concluded at 1 p.m.

But during the flag ceremony, many people sought the shade of trees outside City Hall. Despite the intense heat, Bradbury said the crowd enjoyed the block party.

“We got so many compliments from people and our entertainers and vendors were thrilled,” she said. “I can’t wait to see how this will keep growing each year.”

The block party featured all-Black entertainers, according to Bradbury, who said the local guests appreciated the event.

“We did see some diversity from the community,” she said. “But primarily it was brought in, in the way we established the event.”

Visitors got to enjoy a demonstration from Angela Francis and the Roxbury-based competitive double Dutch jump rope team, The Rope Burners, in the air-conditioned YWCA building

Bradbury said she was also able to make use of Central Congregational Church next door to host the YWCA’s musical performance by social justice singer/songwriter Chris Walton and African and Latin dance instruction with Greg Coles.

“They have a really large community room,” she said. “That allowed us to go in and do whatever we needed to do in there.”

While those who attended the block party planned to do so regardless, they all appreciated the opportunity to get out of the sweltering heat, Bradbury said.

“People were coming for all kinds of different things,” she said.

The Salvation Army Newburyport Corps was also able to cool people down.

The Water Street community center is normally open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Berkhoudt said Thursday that she and her staff had planned to take the holiday off.

But they decided to open to the public when extremely hot weather was forecast earlier in the week.

“We decided to become a cooling center,” she said. “We weren’t really sure what we were going to get. We could have gotten nobody or a flood of people.”

The Salvation Army opened its doors Wednesday at 9 a.m. and stayed open until 4 p m.

About 25 guests came, according to Berkhoudt, who said they also received a free lunch.

Berkhoudt said many community members brought cases of bottled water down to The Salvation Army after she put out a call on social media.

“That was nice to see,” she said.

Dinner was provided for guests Thursday when The Salvation Army was open again from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Berkhoudt said she also expected to be open Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and breakfast would be served.

Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Newburyport for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.