Woods Hole’s New Year’s Day Ritual: “Toast the Coast!”

An annual toast can be many things. It can be heartfelt, sentimental, risqué, cynical, subversive, or just slightly twisted.

Whatever flavor you may desire, a Happy 2013 to You.

Come with me to a special welcome to the new year.

Woods Hole Drawbridge House window holiday decorations.

Woods Hole Drawbridge House window holiday decorations.

Each year, as the clock approaches noon on the first day of the year, Woods Hole people, friends, family, children and pets, gather in front of their Community Hall. Excitement fills the cold, wind-chilled air. Many people are in costumes. Some have drums or musical instruments of various kinds. At the top of the hour, the procession begins, heading east, then north, then west, then south, and then east again.

There will be stops along the way, for events, for performances. The penultimate stop will be to gather in a circle and to “Toast the Coast”, before a rendezvous in the basement of Community Hall, where we’ll enjoy warmth and companionship, food and drink.

Our first look at this event will be mostly from a distance. (I’ll post about this event again, from a closer perspective.)

Alas, there are no photos of the pre-walk gathering time. I forgot that there was no memory chip in the camera, and did not notice the warning notice on the screen until after I’d taken about thirty “pictures”. Oh well. There’s always an extra chip or two in my wallet. It didn’t take long to reload and format the little memory card.

Here’s a portion of the crowd, making the turn onto School street. We’d stopped for a dance performance at the corner, and now are moving again, walking into the teeth of a strong northwest breeze.

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The gentleman flying this flag has a statement to make.

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A whlstle-led percussion section keeps the beat.

Walk anywhere near the bass drums, and you don’t just hear the beat, you feel it, viscerally.

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A stop at the next corner, for juggling.

Not just any juggling.

How about juggling from the top of a five or six foot tall unicycle?

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On we go again, heading west on Millfield.

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Mid-Millfield, there will be a stop for more unicyclery.

For some group unicyclery.

Admire that the handlebars on the “front” part of the womans unicycle are in no way connected to the back part. Admire the man’s unicycle, especially the “off-road” tires. And how can you not admire a girl who rides a unicycle?

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There will be another stop at the next corner, where dragons will battle.

In one scene, dragon “A” is the Republicans and dragon “B” is the Democrats.

Prospero, our master of ceremonies inserts himself between the battlers, declaring that he is “Common Sense”.

When the dragons approach, he flees, saying “Big Mistake!!!!”.

We walk on, turn south, then turn east for the last leg of our ritual journey.

We see a performance of the “Abbot’s Bromley” dance, with its clacking antlers and galumphing hobbyhorse. The rider’s cape is a repurposed christmas tree skirt.

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We gather in a circle near the water.

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Small white cups are passed around, and filled with beverage(s).

Prospero prepares to speak, and says:

“To the Mother!”

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“To the Sun!”

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“And to the Holy Coast!”

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5 responses to “Woods Hole’s New Year’s Day Ritual: “Toast the Coast!”

  1. Welllll? Start something similar, or something else you like, as a family/friends event, but let other folks see what’s going on, and then once you’ve got the hang of it, bring in more folks, and let it snowball…

  2. It would need to involve our beautiful nearby river if our little hamlet were to do anything similar….well, I’ve got a year to prepare! Fabulous post, thanks. All the best for 2013!

    • I think the Patch and the MVTimes had little notices of this…Keep your eyes open. If you have a “daybook” or appointment calendar, just write yourself a note on one of the late December day spaces to hop on the 10:45 AM ferry. If it’s cold, have a quick warm drink at the Pie in the Sky or at the Coffee Obsession. Come home on the 2:30.

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