In July of 1983, La Crosse was expecting its warmest weather in three years. The temperature had not reached 100 degrees in La Crosse since the summer of 1980, but the mercury rose to 100 exactly on July 21st. Local appliance stores were seeing a run on air conditioners, and movie theaters were doing good business. A mass of hot air centered around St. Louis was being blamed for the Coulee Region heat wave.
The state of Iowa came up with a new slogan, to sell itself as a destination for high-tech businesses. Governor Terry Branstad persuaded the Iowa Transportation Commission to put the phrase “Iowa, a State of Mind” on license plates. One state Senator called the expression “silly.”
The Radisson in La Crosse tried old-fashioned melodrama as a summer attraction. The La Crosse Community Theatre put on a show at the hotel called “Egad, What a Cad!” featuring guest villains from local businesses. And at least two summer theater groups in the area were performing “Fiddler on the Roof” that July. One was the Holmen Community Theater, and the other was the Summer Recruit Troupe, doing dinner theater at the Holiday Lodge near Tomah. Summer shows were a “tradition” in 1983, yesterday in La Crosse.