A hardy crowd of 126 plungers braved an exceptionally cold day to raise funds for the Shelter Island Public Library on Saturday, Nov. 30 in what has become a popular community event. Traditionally held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, plunging into the bay offers a few minutes of excruciating cold to atone for the excesses of the holiday feast.
The number of actual plungers was slightly less than some other years; there were many supporters gathered on the beach who chose not to jump in — although the rules only require dipping a toe in, most of the plungers go the full turkey.
The temperature was 36, but the strong wind blowing at 17 mph made it feel like 26. Shells and pebbles encountered on the beach, so charming in summer, felt as sharp as Legos on bare feet in the cold. Numerous entrants decided to stay in their warm cars until just before the starting horn. For the intrepid souls walking around the staging area at Louis’ Beach, there were free cups of hot cider to calm chattering teeth and goosebumps. The Tavern also sold cups of turkey chili to benefit the library.
As much as the actual moment of plunging into the bay, the creative costumes some contestants wear are part of the fun, year after year. Many reflect the Thanksgiving theme, with Native Americans and turkeys on the scene, while others are favorite characters. Chris Carey’s team, always a formidable force, sported turkey tattoos on their cheeks — temporary, we’re assured. Winners for best costumes this year, announced by organizer Andrew Ward, were Jennie Adler dressed as sea goddess Amphitrite, and Greg Senken as The Marshmallow Man.
According to Friends of the Library Treasurer Marian Brownlie, the initial tally of funds raised was about $9,000, and she said additional donations usually come in after the event. The team that raised the most funds in the Plunge was fielded by Sylvester Manor Educational Farm, with another team organized by Carol Tiernan close behind with more donations coming in post-plunge.
“It’s a fun thing,” said Ms. Brownlie, in addition to the support that Friends of the Library are able to raise from plungers and sponsors . “Everyone has a wonderful time.”