by Missy Martinez, National High School Coordinator
Being from lower Alabama, I had my fair share of culture shock when I transplanted to the D.C. metro area. The pace is much faster, the tea is unsweet (no, I do not want to “sweeten it myself”), and I didn’t have to wave to everyone I saw. The first Sunday I attended church, I was shocked by the casual dress and the fact that guys took all the chairs in Sunday School and girls were sitting on the floor (gasp!) – true story.
But there was one thing I was completely unprepared for: WINTER.
In the South, we have “winter” but it’s more like a slightly chillier fall. It will get down to 20 degrees in the middle of the night (maybe). Sometimes, there’s ice. And rarely, there is snow. During my undergrad in the southern part of Mississippi, the entire school was shut down because it was sort of sleeting. It was more like a really really cold rain. Nonetheless, school was canceled and the town was deserted as everyone hid in their homes for safety. There are no such things as salt trucks (remember the Atlanta ice debacle last year), and more importantly, we do not own real winter clothes.
Why is this important? Because every year, come January 22, hundreds of thousands of people descend on Washington D.C. to march on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade in the bitter, wet cold, and the individuals, especially from the southern area of the U.S., are not adequately prepared. How do I know? Because I was that woefully unprepared individual two years ago.
Two years ago, I was more concerned with fashion than warmth. Most of my clothing was thin and from Target. It was not real, durable, water-proof clothing. And guess what… I was FREEZING. I spent the entire day being completely miserable and numb.
When you attend the March for Life, you have to be prepared to be outside for hours, in the cold, wet, snowy weather. I met multiple students last year (all from the same region) who were wearing flats, didn’t bring gloves, or just simple pea-coats. You will freeze to almost death and potentially get frostbite.
Last year, I threw fashion to the wind and went for warmth. I looked crazy but I was cozy. It was 10 degrees for the majority of the day with a wind-chill of zero. Yes, ZERO.
Here are a few tips when packing and planning for the March for Life.
- Wear clothing that is waterproof – if it snows (or even rains), you will get wet. Your clothing will get wet and then you will be significantly colder
- Wear clothing that is extremely thick, or lined – If you can find a down feather coat, or ski-jacket, that is best. A pea-coat or pleather jacket will not keep you warm.
- Layer, Layer, Layer – Especially if the wind kicks up, you will be miserable. Find clothing that you can layer and put on as many as you can.
How to Dress –
Bottom half, layer:
- Tights (preferably fleece lined),
- Under armor or long johns
- Wool socks (do not wear multiple pair. Invest is one pair of real smartwool socks or other socks made for cold weather
- Jeans (no holes)
- Snow pants (optional but recommended if it’s wet)
- Thick, lined, waterproof boots with traction on the bottom. The taller, the better.
Top Half, layer:
- Undershirt or cami
- Long sleeve shirt
- Wool sweater or turtleneck
- Sweatshirt or pull-over
- Thick, lined, waterproof coat (the longer the better).
- Heavy scarf (or two)
- Wool hat or beanie
- Gloves (not the cotton ones from Target. Real waterproof, lined, snowgloves)
When in doubt, wear more! You can always take layers off, but it’s always best to be prepared.
A few other tips –
- Bring hand and foot warmers that you can put in your pockets. Activate them before you go outside and purchase them before you get to DC because once there, the hundreds of thousands of other pro-lifers will want to buy them as well at the one CVS closest to the March route.
- Bring an external phone charger or extra battery. The cold will kill your phone battery in 5 minutes.
- Find gloves that allow use of your cellphone without taking them off – you don’t want to expose bare skin for too long
- Bring a light backpack with snacks and drinks
- Use the restroom before you leave and as often as you can because most places will not let you inside to use the restroom.
- Use public transportation and plan for things to take longer than expected. Remember, 600,000 more people are in the area than usual and it will be packed!
If you have any other questions regarding preparation for the March for Life of SFLA National Conferences, please contact [email protected].