To South Bostonians, traditions have always been an important part of life. We have the traditions celebrated and observed within our families, the special holiday activities during Christmas, Easter, Independence Day and of course St. Patrick’s Day, among so many others. And then there is that uniquely Southie tradition – opening day at Sully’s; where local residents are joined by hordes of visitors to our community in a massive daylong migration to Castle Island. And so it was once again last Friday, when a stampede of people from far and wide brought their cash and their appetites to be part of this special day.
The Sullivan’s Restaurant staff was poised and ready as the doors or floodgates opened early, and the throngs flowed in and feasted their eyes on the impressive menu and then began placing their orders. The opening week half price hot dogs were one of the most requested items, as always. But the menu has something for everyone. The burgers, fries, onion rings and the ever-popular lobster rolls were going like hotcakes. The coffee, shakes, soft drinks, smoothies and every other delicious selection were in big demand, as well. It does not matter how long the lines or how large the order, the staff reacts with the speed and precision of a well-trained military unit, accommodating all with amazing accuracy. The staff is pleasant, friendly and professional. And for the most part, the appreciative customers respond in kind. And this was the scene throughout the day long event.
But there was so much more going on. Old friends and neighbors, who hadn’t seen each other in some cases for years, got a chance to catch up, and new friends were made while passing the time in the line. The weather was chilly, but sunny and pretty nice for March 1st, at least early on before the clouds began moving in. But, a little nip in the air didn’t seem to faze anyone.
South Boston Today was in the mix and we were having as much fun as everyone else. We got to speak with many locals and visitors alike and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves in this festive atmosphere. Abby Covello, formerly from the North End and now living in Maine, says she hasn’t missed an opening day in years, even though she’s been living out of state since 2014. With her kids and 4 of their friends in tow, she was all smiles and the kids were having a blast, loving all the commotion. It was a road trip for them. They always plan their annual visit to Boston to coincide with the day Sully’s opens.
Visiting the historical sites is on the itinerary to be sure but joining the crowd at Castle Island and enjoying a couple of Sully’s ‘snapper dogs’ and a cup of hot coffee or burgers, fries and sodas for the kids is a must to make the visit complete. Former Southie residents, Doreen and Marty Sullivan, accompanied their Uncle Bob Fennessy. For them too, this was an annual trip not to be missed. Pat and Bill Condon drove in from Waltham and were clearly enjoying themselves in the festive atmosphere. And then there were friends, Jackie and Alycia, hanging out with their canine pal ‘Bane’, a beautiful German Shepard wearing a Patriot’s sweater and downing a couple of hot dogs himself.
The day was busy and noisy and crowded and hectic, but most would agree it was fun. Because opening day at Sullivan’s at Castle Island isn’t simply the first day of the season for a restaurant, it’s an experience that people look forward to and return for year after year. 9-year-old Jenny Bickford was munching on a grilled cheese sandwich and by the look on her face it was plain to see she was loving every bite. When asked if she was enjoying the day, she smiled and said, “OH YEAH!”