WESTPORT, Conn. — Nearly 50 excited swimmers gathered on Westport's Compo Beach on New Year's Day, ready to plunge in the freezing waters of Long Island Sound — and all for a good cause.
This is the 10th year for the Freezin’ for a Reason Polar Bear Plunge, a charity event held by Temple Israel of Westport.
The plunge began promptly at 11 a.m. as the crowd braved the cold, and when it was time, ran into the water and took in the cold splash. Some dove in, some made a small jump and some just walked in a little bit.
Dogs (with their owners) watched the plunge and then jumped into the water, too.
And while the participants were freezing, it was well above 32 degrees on the sunny beach as temps soared to near 50.
"This was such a great opportunity to raise money for the charities, and today we raised nearly $57,000!" said Thomas Patterson, the event's co-founder.
The money raised from the plunge goes to various charities, including Interfaith Housing, Marfan Foundation, Autism Speaks, PanCan, Hole in the Wall Gang, Make a Wish, United Cerebral Palsy, Child Guidance Center, MS, and Homes with Hope. For the event's 10th anniversary, the Plunge also made a donation to Temple Israel's social actions.
“My friends and I always come out each year for the plunge. We challenge each other to raise the most money,” said participant Allen Brand.
The plunge has become a tradition for some families and friends. Some even took their own plunge after the event was over, just to get another cold rush.
“The water was very cold, but it was fun to jump in! We did the plunge with the crowd and then did our own amongst friends afterward,” said Abby Smith, a Westport resident. “Now I’m ready to get warm again."
For more information on the Polar Bear Plunge or to make a donation, click here.