by Rick Winterson


The budding Year of 2018 brought some changes to the Annual L Street Brownies’ Polar Plunge.  This year’s Plunge took place through the Curley Community Center’s entrance on the M Street instead of the K Street entrance, which had been used in recent years.  Also, the high tide was early this New Year’s Day, so the 2018 Polar Plunge was set for a comparatively early 9 a.m.   And then there were the prevailing temperatures and breeze – again, not unknown at past Plunges – but certainly extremely frigid.

Temperatures hovered in single digits, just above 0 degrees F.  The breeze, although fairly mild, lowered the wind chill to well below zero.  This was responsible for some local Plungers giving the 2018 event a pass this year.  But several hundred Plungers – perhaps as many as 500 or so – showed up, one of them all the way from Oregon.  However, that was a significantly low turnout, when compared to well over 1,000 on January 1, 2017.  In fact, Mayor Walsh, who was inaugurated just an hour after this year’s Plunge, had originally asked the L Street Brownies to call it off.  The Brownies respectfully but firmly declined.

Kevin Conroy’s last Plunge-related gathering, to raise money for scleroderma research, took place earlier at the L Street Tavern.  The Plungers from the Tavern marched to the Curley Center to join the main body of L Street Brownies’ Polar Plungers, arriving just before 9 a.m.  The beach looked bleak, to say the least.  What appeared to be low sand dunes were actually drifted snowbanks that had been lightly covered with blowing sand.  Salt water ice formed in unexpected places, including where the actual Plunge took place..

Tommy McAuliffe blew “Charge!” on his bass horn.  The yellow tape dropped.  The 2018 Plungers, many in outlandish costumes, ran into the oncoming tide.  Most slipped on submerged ice that had formed overnight. Everyone turned around immediately to regain the shore and dry off as quickly as possible.  Even though the water was measurably warmer than the surrounding air, the below-zero wind chills meant “get warm FAST!”  The 2018 Brownies’ Plunge lasted from a few minutes before 9 a.m. till just about 9:05.  Everyone recovered safely.

After the 2018 L Street Brownies’ Polar Plunge, many of the 2018 Plungers returned to the L Street Tavern to continue Kevin Conroy’s last scleroderma fundraiser.  Plans are already afoot for next year’s Polar Plunge.  Stay tuned.


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