The sight of whitecaps on Peconic Bay was not promising as the hour of the Turkey Plunge approached on Saturday, but any hint of warmth in the air or the water would have been a false promise indeed.
At Crescent Beach, the 12th Annual Turkey Plunge to benefit the Friends of the Shelter Island Library brought out a horde of intrepid souls, teeth chattering as they wriggled into costumes for the welcome return of the event.
Back in person after a COVID hiatus, the Plunge welcomed turkeys, pumpkin heads, lobsters and plungers of all ages, vying for awards and the self-satisfaction of madly stampeding into the sea.
Library Director Terry Lucas said she considered herself lucky that “of six or seven plunges, I haven’t really been here when it was terribly cold and windy.”
Her luck didn’t hold on Saturday, though, with the air temperature in the low 30’s at 11 a.m. and wind gusts up to 26 mph. The water temperature of 53 degrees awaited the plungers for a few seconds of intense pain and shock to the system.
Organized by the Friends of the Library, the event offered free hot cider and doughnut holes to all, with hot chili for sale to add to the fundraising total. A team called the Intrepids took honors for raising the most money for the event.
Costume awards went to Heather Brownlie (Sea Goddess) and Greg Senken (Uncle Fester). Following the event, some plungers may have retreated to the library to search for words to capture their experience. Arctic, frigid, icy, frigid, bitter, piercing, numbing, brutal and more come to mind, but all will be forgotten by the time the next Plunge rolls around, and the challenge will prove irresistible once more.
Here are some more photos by Susan Carey Dempsey from the happy day.