LONDONDERRY — There were several signs that spring finally arrived last week — brilliant sunshine, more daylight, and officers sporting mustaches and beards at the Londonderry Police Department.
It’s called March Mustache Madness, an annual tradition at the police station, where the department relaxes its facial hair policy for the month.
The men grow not only mustaches and beards, but also goatees.
But the razors must come out at the end of the month, police Chief William Hart said.
The chief is growing his own full-length beard.
“We have lots of participation and it’s a lot of fun,” Hart said.
Like spotting the first crocus of the season, seeing a police officer trying to grow facial hair is a harbinger of sorts, he said.
“It means it will be warmer in April and spring is sure to come,” Hart joked.
The tradition has grown in popularity since it started five years ago, he said. Almost all the men in the approximately 60-member department participate.
When the Boston Red Sox surprised fans by making the playoffs last fall, Londonderry police officers were allowed to support their “bearded brothers” on the team by growing facial hair.
It worked — the Red Sox won the World Series and the officers didn’t have to shave until after the Duck Boat parade through Boston, Hart said.
“We know how powerful the beards can be,” he said. “It brings spring, so we knew it could bring a world championship.”
Growing facial hair is quickly becoming a tradition at other Southern New Hampshire police and fire departments as well, with some doing it to raise money for charitable causes.
Down the street, about a dozen Londonderry firefighters grew mustaches last November as part of “Movember.” They raised $3,000 to fight prostate and testicular cancer, firefighter and paramedic Steve Cotton said.