Thursday, September 6, 2012

25th Annual Provincetown Swim for Life and Paddler Flotilla, and This Week's Hot Ticket, the Celebration of Life

The first swimmer glides in to the shoreline at the Boatslip
in the annual Provincetown Swim for Life and Paddler Flotilla
The first Swim for Life dates back to September 11th, 1988, as some 18 swimmers took the plunge from the Provincetown shoreline to the Long Point Lighthouse, raising $6,000 for the Provincetown Positive/People with AIDS Coalition.
This year's Swim, on Saturday, September 8th, marks the silver anniversary of this celebrated community event, commemorating the 25th annual Provincetown Swim for Life and Paddler Flotilla. The Swim is followed by the Mermaid Brunch, catered by Far Land Provisions, and held on the deck at the Boatslip. It is a free community luncheon with entertainment, (donations are welcome, of course,) celebrating the efforts of the swimmers, and Provincetown's magnificent natural harbor. At this event awards are given for the highest fundraisers of the day, the Circle of Honor Award is given to those who have made the swim ten times or have raised $10,000, and the David Asher Volunteer Award is presented to an outstanding volunteer.
There are a number of local businesses that sponsor this event, as well as restaurants, guesthouses, and many other businesses and shops that provide prizes for participnts, totaling nearly 90 businesses in Provincetown and Truro that sponsor or support the Swim. Check this list of Swim Supporters and give them your support by patronizing them, and thank them for their contributions to this amazing event.
Artist, activist and Community Compact founder Jay Critchly will be officiating, as usual. He and Walter MCLean hatched the idea for this event back in 1988 when they made their own swim across the harbor to see if it could be done, and then within two weeks the first event was pulled together. The swim now runs from Long Point Light to the Boatslip, where swimmers are greeted by throngs of cheering friends and supporters.
Last year's event saw some 150 volunteers as well as 400 swimmers, some from around the country, and a few from around the world, gather in Provincetown for the yearly 1.4 mile swim across the harbor, raising $200,000 for HIV/AIDS, women's health, and the Provincetown Community Compact, as well as various local non-profit organizations supported by the Compact. To date, this event has raised about $2.5 million for programs supporting health and the quality of life in our community. Watch this YouTube video about the Provincetown Swim for Life 25th Anniversary.
There is still time for you to participate, which is exactly what this flagship fundraising event for our little community is all about. Swimmers, paddlers and volunteers are still wanted, and you can go to the website to find out more. There are pages on their website for everything from volunteer opportunities to safety in the water to fundraising tips. Swimmers are required to raise at least $100 in pledges, but if your schedule permits you to join in at the last minute, you could write a $100 check yourself and still register to swim.
Don't leap lightly into the water, however. A swim of I.4 miles is a long one for most folks, particularly for those who haven't done any sort of training leading up to the event, and in past years there haven't always been enough wetsuits to go around, so it could be rather cold. But don't let me dissuade you from swimming at the last minute, either. All manner of safety precautions are in place, and there are volunteers in kayaks and boats in the water as well as a number of medical personnel available, should they be needed.
Volunteers are also needed, to help with registration, to operate support boats, to serve and clean up at the Mermaid Brunch, for the lost-and-found, handing out Tee-shirts to swimmers and volunteers, and for many other jobs. One of the most important things any community member can do is to turn out at the Boatslip to cheer on the swimmers and greet them as they come out of the water. Cheerleaders remain on the beach, whooping and hollering and cheering on the swimmers until the last one has come to shore, for whatever time that takes.
Registration will be held from 9 to 10:00 AM on the deck of the Boatslip Resort, at 161 Commercial Street, at the edge of Provincetown Harbor. At 9:30 AM the Provincetown Trolley will begin to shuttle the swimmers to MacMillan Pier and the Viking Princess, the Cee Jay, and boats from Flyer's Boat Rental, which will all take swimmers out to the very tip of Cape Cod at Long Point. The Swim across Provincetown Harbor, from the Long Point Light back to the Boatslip, will begin at 10:30 AM, barring unforeseen circumstances like whales in the harbor, which delayed the start of the swim one year. The Mermaid Brunch follows from 12 to 2 PM, with the awards ceremony around 1 PM, or whenever the last swimmer is out of the water.
One of the best events of all, the Celebration of Life, takes place the night before, at 8 PM at the Meeting House, at 236 Commercial Street, so don't miss it. For many years local musician John Thomas has been putting on a huge show the night before the Swim, featuring just a number or two from each of dozens of the Town's favorite entertainers: singers, musicians, comics... even spoken word artists have appeared to read a few paragraphs to the packed house at the Unitarian Universalist Meetinghouse, sometimes called the U U. Get there early to get a good seat. This event may be the most uplifting, joyous, life-affirming event in Provincetown every year, always held the night before the Swim for Life, and always at the U U. It is this weeks Hot Ticket, with no ticket actually required. It is a free event for the whole community. Donations are accepted, but not required, so don't let that be a barrier now that the season has shifted and some of us are already losing our jobs. I'll see you at the Swim and the brunch the next day, too.

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