Each New Year’s Day, a group of warm-blood humans, members all of the Polar Bear Club, descend on the beach at Coney Island and other locales in North America for an icy swim. The tradition, which dates back 1920, is a point of fascination to many non-participants, who wonder what would possess a fellow member of the species to strip down to his bare essentials and challenge the elements.
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Global No Pants Subway Ride Day, in contrast, has been around for only a dozen years. The 2013 iteration of the event is scheduled for today, January 13, and will occur in some 60 cities worldwide, ranging from Adelaide to Atlanta, Bankgok to Buenos Aires. The website Improv Everywhere, which organizes the event, has the skinny on participating cities (as with the Polar Bears, New York appears to be the hub), along with the history:
“The mission started as a small prank with seven guys and has grown into an international celebration of silliness, with dozens of cities around the world participating each year. The idea behind No Pants is simple: Random passengers board a subway car at separate stops in the middle of winter without pants. The participants do not behave as if they know each other, and they all wear winter coats, hats, scarves, and gloves. The only unusual thing is their lack of pants.”
Bare-legged riders around the globe braved the winter weather and some stares from fellow commuters on Sunday for the No Pants Subway Ride – an annual celebration of freedom, subways – and skivvies.
After events in cities like London and Madrid, North America followed suit, donning just their briefs and boxers in cities like New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Mexico City.
It started off as a prank by comedy group Improv Everywhere that bemused a few embarrassed commuters but has since grown into a global phenomenon.
One participant entered the train in just his underwear for seven consecutive stops and, if asked, were instructed to tell people that they ‘just forgot’ their trousers.
On the 8th stop, a final participant would enter the carriage selling trousers out of a duffel bag – much to the bemusement of other passengers.
The annual event steadily grew each year with more and more people choosing to take part.
But it nearly hit the buffers in 2006 when the stunt was halted by a New York policeman. Eight passengers were handcuffed in their underwear and taken into police custody.
A judge later threw out the case because it is not illegal to wear just your underwear on the Subway.
Read more: Examiner.com