The first day of summer is still more than a month off, but you wouldn’t have known it in Boston on Saturday.
On the heels of a fairly chilly, blustery first months of spring, temperatures soared into the mid-80s. And judging by the scene at South Boston’s M Street Beach, a popular summertime oasis, the warm season kicked off with a bang.
The sandy stretch hugging the curve of William J. Day Boulevard was packed with thousands of beachgoers breaking out new swimwear and soaking in the sun. It was a welcome sight after a winter that brought a historic blizzard and freezing temperatures, and a spring that, at least before Saturday, hasn’t been much better.
“It’s awesome,” said TJ McManus, 28, who had come from his home in Brighton to visit the beach at its busiest for the first time. “It feels like the first day of our summer, especially after the last couple weeks of windy misery. I’m just soaking it in.”
The view of M Street was like one out of a Boston summer picture book. A group of young men, dressed in floral bathing suits and sunglasses, shared a pack of beers from Harpoon Brewery. A young pit bull rolled furiously in the sand. Footballs and baseballs soared over the crowds of people.
And some South Boston residents watched the day’s excitement from their porches, a midday activity they will likely repeat time and again this summer.
Sal Arria, 78, sat in a beach chair, happily completing a crossword puzzle and observing the crowd. Arria grew up in Dorchester, and said he knew this strand when you could only find 30 or so beachgoers enjoying the weather, nothing like the throngs that flock here today.
“I’m hooked on coming down here now,” said Arria. “Back in my day, it was a [expletive]. It was deserted. But there’s energy now. There’s life. No one my age, of course, but still. It’s a lot of fun.”
There was some deep nostalgia for Arria, too. His wife died two years ago, and he remembers frequenting this beach with her as a teenager, before they struck up a courtship.
“It brings back memories,” he said, “good ones.”
Nick Wlodychak, 30, didn’t mind the sudden jump in temperature.
After all, “that’s Boston, right?” he said.
Wlodychak sat contented in a beach chair Saturday, watching his 5-month-old golden retriever puppy, Rufus, intensely dig at the sand beneath him. It was the puppy’s first time at the beach, though Wlodychak said many more trips from his South Boston home are to follow this summer.
And the crowds will have ample opportunities to return over the coming week, though the temperatures will be more spring-like than summery after Saturday.
Alan Dunham, a meteorologist in the National Weather Service’s Norton office, said in a phone interview that temperatures are likely to hover in the 70s for a couple of days before dipping down into the high 60s. The 80-degree days may return at the end of the week.
“We’ve still got awhile left to go in meteorological spring,” said Dunham, “but this will certainly be a warm week.”
The temperature in Boston hit 86, tying the May 14 record set in 1879, the weather service said. Only Norton and Bedford were hotter Saturday, both reaching 87, said Durnham.
For many beachgoers Saturday, the day was a pleasant precursor for the season to come.
Erin M., for example, who declined to give her last name, was emphatic about the day’s warm temperatures as she walked off the beach.
“Vibes are high for a feral summer,” she said.