LAWLOR: Holiday traditions in Southport
Published 12:33 pm, Thursday, December 15, 2016
Two holiday events in the Southport section of town have our family both looking forward to, and at the same time filling us with just a little apprehension. We have been doing them both for over 15 years. One is the Pequot Library Caroling Party Friday the 16th the other is the Annual jump into Southport Harbor on New Year’s Day.
The Pequot Library was one of the reasons we moved to the area. We were living in Norwalk and came up 95 to attend their summer Used Book Sale. (billed as the biggest in New England) After the sale, we drove around and fell in love with the area. We started a family here and soon my two daughters started to go the village library regularly. My oldest read her first book in the children’s room. (It was a short book; the Fat Cat Sat on the Hat) One year, Carol who used to work at the library, told us about their caroling party. We bundled the kids up and went.
When we first started going the party was a fairly small affair. A group of people singing around a small bonfire outside. As my kids grew the party grew. Now it has horse-drawn carriage rides, choirs, and an auditorium filled with crafts for the kids. As they got older, my daughters have volunteered to help the younger kids with the arts and crafts. The library has a program to recruit older helpers. It’s called The Secret Service. Normally the helpers are middle schoolers. My daughters have helped out through high school. This is where the apprehension now comes in. My oldest daughter, a junior in college in South Carolina, got an email the other day asking to help.
“I’m in college. Most kids are done in middle school I’ll have just gotten back after finals. It’s a Friday. I want to see my friends.” This year she agreed to help with crafts but go out with her friends during clean up. It ends at 7pm. She is not all that good at cleaning up anyway. She also won’t wear the official Secret Service T-shirt. She doesn’t think it will fit.
The second holiday tradition is something we love but that fills me with a little anxiety. The Bobby Kaps Jump for EB Jan. 1 at Southport Harbor. That water is cold. This year the name of the 17-year old jump has been changed in honor of Bobby Kaps, one of the founders who recently passed away. EB (Epidermolysis Bullosa) is called “the worst disease you’ve never heard of” It’s a painful and life-threatening skin disorder affecting children from birth.
The motto for the jump is “a few seconds in icy pain pales in comparison to a lifetime of excruciating pain.”
Once you make the leap you lose the apprehension. Yes the water is cold, but you just let instincts take over. You get out as fast as you can. In a way it is refreshing. You start the New Year off, like you started out life, cold, wet, and crying. Over the years my daughters started jumping with me.
For several years, jumpers have supported EB research by plunging into the harbor alongside the Digiovanna family (former residents of Southport) whose son Shane, now 18, has been battling EB since birth. The DiGiovannas relocated to Cincinnati a few years ago to be close to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for Shane. A simultaneous jump now happens in Cincinnati and some people now jump all over the world, and send in their videos.
Both of these local events have become part of our family’s holiday traditions for the last 15 plus years.
If you are interested please visit www.bobbykapsjumpforeb.com for more information, for the jump and www.pequotlibrary.org for the Caroling. At the jump, you don’t have to jump. You can be a spectator. And at the Pequot, you don’t have to clean up.
Thomas Lawlor lives in Southport with his wife and two daughters. His column appears every other Friday. He can be reached by email at Tlawlor@mcommunications.com.