by Rick Winterson


   The 2018 Polar Plunge, perhaps the longest continuous annual custom and event in South Boston, will happen on Monday morning, January 1 (of course), at 9 a.m.  The location – the Curley Community Center (a.k.a. “The L”) on Day Boulevard at the foot of L Street, on the K Street Beach side.

   South Boston’s historic Polar Plunge has been a faithfully followed local custom for over 115 years – at least since 1901.  Our hometown’s Plunge is the oldest in the country.  Very possibly, South Boston residents took part in unrecorded Plunges going all the way back to the Civil War.  Soldiers in that years-long conflict learned the value of sanitary habits, including bathing; they brought these health-giving customs back when they returned to civilian life.  Frequent cold-weather Plungers are called “L Street Brownies” because they sport tans all through the winter.

For the past 15 years, South Boston’s Kevin Conroy has held a Scleroderma Fundraiser before and after each annual plunge.  It’ll be a great way to start this coming New Year of 2018.  Sadly, it will be Kevin’s final go at running this Fundraiser, so be sure to join him one last time.  As he puts it, “I’m going out with a splash!”  The L Street Tavern at L and East Eighth will host Scleroderma pre-Plungers starting at 7:30 a.m. or so on January 1.  Proceeds from this ongoing party will benefit care and research into the cause of scleroderma, a dreadful affliction which is still incurable.  Newcomers are most welcome to take part.

At 8:30 a.m. on January 1, Kevin will form up his 103rd Postal Fire Brigade Pipes and Drums in front of the Tavern, and head for the L.  The contingent, most of whom intend to plunge, will arrive at the beach in plenty of time to take the 2018 Polar Plunge at 9 a.m.  They’ll be joined by perhaps 1,000 other Plungers on K Street Beach.  Weird costumes are welcome; the Plunge is really quite (!) a sight.

After the Plunge, those Plungers who want to support the Scleroderma Fundraiser will return to the L Street Tavern for libations and beef stew by Trapper – don’t miss it.  There’ll be attractive raffles as well.  The Fundraiser will break up before 12 Noon, leaving most of New Year’s Day to you yourself.

A few details for all you confirmed Plungers:  The average temperatures on New Year’s morning around here have been about 32 degrees and the water has been about 40.  It’s too early to predict much more than that, but even if the sun is out, it won’t help much at that time of day.  The tide is high around 10:30 a.m. on January 1, which is why the 2018 Plunge is going to take place at 9 a.m. – earlier than usual.

See you there!  And Happy New Year!