At noon on New Year’s Day, the sun shone bright but air temperatures had sunk into the low 20s. A bunch of hardy revelers prepared for the Monument Beach Polar Plunge.
An onshore breeze made the air feel even chillier—in the teens.
Among the plungers this year was Jeremy, a 1-year-old service dog.
This was this pup’s first ever polar plunge.
“He seemed to like it,” Philip A. (Tony) Dingmann said of his young dog’s New Year’s Day dip into the frigid water.
Dr. Dingmann, a psychiatrist who works with active soldiers and military veterans, said that Jeremy is a service dog who is trained to work with people suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and traumatic brain injury. He said that he and Jeremy did not last long in the water, staying in for only about 30 seconds before returning to the beach and warm towels.
“We didn’t go in for long, just in and out. Some years I’d do double dips, sometimes triple dips. Not this year,” he said.
He also noted that there were roughly 20 dogs at the beach on Wednesday, but Jeremy was the only one to do the plunge. Dr. Dingmann and Jeremy were among more than 200 hardy souls who braved the bitter cold to take part in the plunge, as hundreds more people crowded the beach to simply watch the annual spectacle.
Robert W. Bilodeau, president of the Monument Beach Polar Club, said that there were 170 people who registered and another 30 to 40 who arrived a little late and did not sign up.
Mr. Bilodeau said this year’s plunge was one of the coldest he could remember in the event’s 17-year history. The Monument Beach resident has taken part in every plunge since it began back in 1996, which he said started off as a bet at a Christmas party.
“Someone said ‘I’ll go in, if you go in,’” he said.
The following year they came up with the idea of raising money for a charity and chose the food pantry as the club’s cause, he said.
Mr. Bilodeau holds the record for the longest time in the water during the polar plunge. He said that six or seven years ago he spent 27 minutes in the water. He said that the club no longer encourages people staying in beyond 10 minutes.
“Too many people were getting sick and having to go to the hospital. Something fun was turning too serious,” he said, adding that he only spent four minutes in the water this year.
Later in the day, the plungers were invited to a party at the Weary Travelers Club at 77 Valley Bars Road in Monument Beach for complimentary homemade Quahog Chowder. Mr. Bilodeau said that he was not sure how many plungers showed up for the party, but it was standing room only at the club.
“It was good to warm up the core again,” he said.
A follow-up party will be held at the Weary Travelers Club on January 31 featuring a potluck supper, as well as raffles, auctions and silent auctions. Mr. Bilodeau said the event should raise another couple of thousand dollars for Bourne Friends Food Pantry.
“We try to make the most we can for the food pantry,” he said.