As fall temperatures plummet, millions of visitors from the New England countryside will make the annual pilgrimage to Boston for people peeping season. The event is a favorite regional activity for many, and experts predict record numbers during the coming winter.
People peeping is the name commonly given to the viewing of persons during the winter season. People peepers, on the other hand, are those who take part in the activity. Participants generally travel to densely populated urban areas to watch people go about their business, the most frequent being their attempts to escape the cold. Most major towns in New England offer prime people peeping when the time is right, but Boston routinely takes top prize among peepers.
“My family’s gone people peepin’ every year for as long as I can remember,” says Thomas Birch of Lincoln, N.H. “After the year’s fall, my daddy would take us down to Boston for a few days. It’s such a wonderful thing, you know, seein’ all the different kinds of people all around. All different shapes and sizes and colors. Mostly black, though, since they’re all bundled up against the cold.”
“We used to go to Maine in the fall for leaf peeping, but we find that’s just not as much fun as people peeping,” said Marsha Fuller of Lincoln, New Hampshire. “So instead of wasting money on that trip, we head down to Boston or Worcester in the winter. It’s a hellacious drive sometimes what with the snowstorms and all, but when we get there, and we can watch all the people scampering around, trying to get warm, it really makes the trip worth it.”
The 2015 Farmer’s Almanac predicts higher than normal snowfall for Boston, New York and other major cities along the Atlantic Corridor. This is especially the case for the months of December, January and February, during which the weather is expected to include “colder and slightly wetter than normal, with above-normal snowfall.”
“Folks are hardly ever outside then,” says Denise Palm, a frequent tourist from the west coast. “You rarely ever see anyone out and about for all that long, and I don’t blame them. It gets so cold here in the wintertime!”
Most consider snowy and freezing weather phenomena to be ideal, which is why Boston is the pastime’s epicenter. As days grow shorter and average temperatures decrease, more Bostonians spend less of their time outside. The infrequent sunlight and greater cold make for a most inhospitable environment, yet such is precisely what is necessary for people peeping.
The popular form of recreation is not without its detractors. As the weather worsens, obstacles like snow drifts and black ice hamper people’s ability to get around. The addition of people peepers only clogs the roads further, frustrating many in Boston. “They’re all over the place,” says an outspoken Southie resident. “It’s a disgrace, fallin’ everywhere like that in peoples’ ways.”
Despite the annoyance, the people peepers keep coming. Himself a father, Birch intends to rejoin countless others in the next few months for the trip south. “The Pines are already talkin’ about visitin’ the city in October, but I think we’ll wait till December or January. That’s when the real action starts.”
“I’m a bit of a fanatic about the whole thing,” Birch admits. “I’m pretty sure it’s why everyone calls me ‘Peeping Tom.'”