Annual Burning of the Socks event: Out with the old (socks), in with the new

14 Mar

Annual Burning of the Socks event: Out with the old (socks), in with the new

The tradition of burning old, smelly winter socks to usher in the spring season began in the mid-1980s in Annapolis, Maryland, and lives on today at the South Carolina Maritime Museum on South Carolina’s Hammock Coast.

Capt. Bob Turner, who lives in Pawleys Island and is active in the Georgetown community, began the tradition, now called “Burning of the Socks,” with a group of friends at a boatyard in Annapolis, Maryland. One year, on the first day of spring, Turner and his friends ceremoniously removed their well-worn winter socks, placed them on a paint tray, doused them with lighter fluid, set them on fire and then drank a beer to celebrate.

Thus began the tradition of sock burning to celebrate spring, and today there are sock-burning events in coastal communities across the country. The Georgetown event, which ushers in the beginning of the spring season on South Carolina’s Hammock Coast, features sock-burning festivities, where attendees take turns throwing their socks into a bonfire, along with musical entertainment and local cuisine.

The Burning of the Socks event in Georgetown is held at the South Carolina Maritime Museum on Front Street. (Photo provided by the SC Maritime Museum)

This year’s 10th annual event, set for Thursday, March 21, 2024, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the museum, will also include a donation drive for socks. They will be given to Friendship Place, a local nonprofit that helps less fortunate people in the community. New socks can be dropped off at the museum throughout March. Live music will be provided by Bil Krauss.

Tickets for the event are $30 for members of Friends of the Museum and $35 for non-members. All proceeds benefit the South Carolina Maritime Museum.

“This year’s Burning of the Socks event will combine old and new traditions,” said Susan Davis, a board member with the Harbor Historical Association, the fund-raising organization for the South Carolina Maritime Museum. “We will indeed keep the fire lit for the incineration of any well-worn winter socks; but will now encourage attendees to bring new socks for a donation to local shelters.”

Turner and his family usually attend the annual event in Georgetown, and it has become tradition that he reads his “Burning Socks for the Equinox” poem. The Equinox is the first day of spring, this year on Tuesday, March 19.

This year, in addition to Turner reading his poem, Davis will again read her revised poem she wrote in 2022, “A Toast of Blessings for Those Who Have Needs the Most,” which reflects the changes to the event. Here is a sample of Davis’s poem:

So, they’ll burn some socks at the Equinox, in a little ol’ fire burning nice and hot.

But giving socks away is the real solution, to stopping that continued Sampit pollution.

Through the spring and the summer and into the fall, they’ll feel real good not wearin’ socks at all.

While their feet are bare and stinky in old deck shoes, others will have feet cozy in something brand new.

Davis said she and other organizers of Burning of the Socks are glad to hold the event again this year.

The Burning of the Socks event is also a chance to donate new socks to those in need. (Photo by Clayton Stairs/Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce)

“We all need the time to catch up with old friends and make acquaintance with new ones, and the Burning of the Socks event always promises good food and good conversation,” she said.

With that in mind, the Harbor Historical Association board of directors came up with the idea to have a sock donation during the event. Board member John Benson said it was fellow board member Tom Newmister’s idea originally and then Benson contacted Friendship Place, to work out the details.

“It is just a fun evening – go online and register – bring old socks and throw them on the fire pit and place the new socks in the collection boat,” Benson said. “Out with the old, in with the new. Fun for all!”

Friendship Place was started in 1998 but did not actually start serving the needs of the community until 2000. The group’s vision statement is to “address unmet needs in the Georgetown community, while helping individuals live up to their God-given potential.”

Tickets for the event can be purchased online here, or by calling the office at 843-520-0111. The South Carolina Maritime Museum is located at 729 Front St. in Georgetown.

For more information about the museum, click here. For more information about Friendship Place, call 843-545-1115, or click here.

By Clayton Stairs / tourism manager for the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce and South Carolina’s Hammock Coast®



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