By RICK WINTERSON
The Polar Plunge is one of Southie’s oldest traditions. It’s historic. South Boston Online believes the plunge has been recorded right back till the turn of the last century – around 1901 or 1902, the years of the Dorchester Heights monument and the first St. Patrick’s/Evacuation Day Parade. Others say its first year was 1904, making the Polar Plunge 112 years old. Whichever figure is more accurate, South Boston’s Polar Plunge is the oldest in the nation. (If any of you readers have different information, please let us know. Thank you.)
Nowadays, the Polar Plunge takes place on the K Street side of the Curley Community Center. It is overseen and organized by the L Street Brownies, Center Director Freddy Ahern and his staff. Between 500 and 1,000 people take part each year. More than 500 plunged this year. Promptly at 8:15 a.m., ahern announced the prevailing temperatures: 46 degrees in the water, 38 degrees on the beach. He then cued the countdown – “ten, nine, eight, …” and Tommy blew the bugle call “Charge” on his baritone horn. And then they plunged.
You should have been there. In addition to being of great benefit to the Curley Center, the plunge also supports other worthy causes. Cops for Kids sponsored a contingent of plungers. Kevin Conroy’s Fundraiser for Scleroderma Research started its morning at the L Street Tavern and then was piped down to the water’s edge by the L Street Tavern Pipes & Drums (once known as “The 103rd Postal Fire Column”). They blew the windows out in the Curley Center’s Community Room. It was “Freezin’ for a Reason.”
To you newcomers, South Boston’s Polar Plunge is free (unless you choose to make a contribution of some kind). It’s a fabulous “Southie time,” an absolutely unique event nationwide, and open to anyone who wants to take the plunge. See you next year, we hope.