Air Temperature at 41 degrees. Winds 13 to 16 knots. Seas around 2 feet. Small craft warnings. Water temperature in the shallows, 45 degrees.
The above conditions produced yells, screams, howls and shrieks from about 100 people — and another 200 hundred cheering them on — throwing themselves from Crescent Beach into Peconic Bay Saturday morning. Why people would think this was a good idea was answered by the raising of about $15,000 for the Friends of the Shelter Island Library.
The third annual Turkey Plunge attracted teams and individuals, one as far away as the Netherlands, all of whom were sponsored by donations to take the shock bath in frigid weather and cutting winds.
Prizes were awarded for most money raised, best costume, oldest and youngest plunger, most money raised by teams and individuals, and the plunger with the most pledges. Friends of the Library Chairwoman Sue Hine said one contest entry scrapped from last year was staying the longest in the water, for fear there would be frozen Islanders fished from the bay.
A Native American elder, called Chief Retawerif (read it backwards) showed up in full finery. Also known as Chris Carey, he explained he had come because the library helped all Shelter Islanders and it showed the enduring spirit of the community, adding, “It was also something my parole officer said I had to do.”
The event was MC’ed by Reporter cartoonist Peter Waldner, and judged by School Superintendent Michael Hynes, who took the plunge dressed like a man of leisure in a sporty cap and plaid bathrobe. Mr.Hynes said he plunged last year, “and I’m still recovering.”
The winners were:
Best costume (woman) — Heather Brownlie, as Wonder Woman
Best costume (man) — Matthew Badger, as Honey Badger
Best costume (kid) — Gallo Patel, with a turkey painted on his back
Youngest plunger — Thaddeus Bryant, aged eight
Oldest plunger (woman) Mimi Brennan
Oldest plunger (man) — Joe Hine
Most money raised by an individual — Fred Hills
For more on the story, see The Reporter’s print edition this Thursday, Nov. 29.