L Street Brownies Swim 2017

L St. Brownies Continue the Tradition with 114th New Year’s Polar Plunge

                                                                       Long standing traditions abound in South Boston. It’s one of the many things that make this town so unique. Well, the terms colorful, original and just plain fun come to mind whenever mention is made of the Annual L Street Brownies New Year’s Day Swim. And kicking off 2017; which makes it the 114th consecutive year for the swim was no exception as what was possibly a record crowd of swimmers and spectators made their way down to the shore to be part of a very special experience.

 As one crowd gathered on Day Blvd and on the shoreline, another crowd was assembling at Woody’s L Street Tavern. This group, led by Kevin Conroy, and there to support the Scleroderma Foundation, proceeded down the middle of L Street. Conroy; playing his famous bagpipes and wearing what has become his trademark blue checkered bathrobe, was joined by Pipes and Drum players from a variety of organizations; all of whom have clearly mastered their instruments because they sounded great. They merged with the other crowd which combined, now swelled to what some police on hand estimated to be at least two thousand people. The air temperature was mild for January 1st; a balmy and breezy 30ish, with brilliant sunshine but the water, as usual, was brain freezing which makes it all the more of a challenge.

Prior to the official start, groups of strangely clad ‘polar plungers’ sprinted in and out of the water and many loud and ear splitting shrieks could be heard as they got the shock of a lifetime.  It’s safe to say that many hangovers were cured on this day thanks to taking that dunk in the chilly Atlantic. For the official start, like race horses lined up at the starting gate, the exuberant crowd awaited the sound of the starter horn and then the stampede began. It was wild pandemonium and it was “awesome” as one spectator said through chattering teeth.

The Annual L Street Brownies swim is an event where people wear anything they feel like wearing. All sorts of crazy and creative costumes can be seen which makes it an even more festive gathering.

This annual swim is sponsored by the BCYF Curley Recreation Center and the staff seems to do a better job at it with each passing year. The L Street Brownies use the event to raise money to support the South Boston Sports Hall of Fame Scholarship Fund. Several other groups also participate and raise funds for other worthy causes. And of course, a major part of this event is that it also brings in many spectators and participants who want to help raise funds for another worthy cause – the Scleroderma Foundation of New England. As was stated earlier, these are the participants who gather at Woody’s L Street tavern and march, by the hundreds down L Street to the swim. Kevin Conroy spearheads this effort on this day each year and has brought a large increase in awareness for this effort and worthwhile charity. For those who want more information on how to help with this cause log onto newengland@scleroderma.org

As the event came to an end, hearing the excited voices and laughter that permeated the still chilly winter air, it was clear that everyone; swimmers and spectators alike had a good time. And why wouldn’t they? The order of the day was fun and fun it certainly was.  Photo Credits: Doug Shoop