A true Jamestown tradition will begin Sunday at East Ferry
We received a tip in November from a Jamestown police officer. He called and told us that he had heard a rumor that the annual New Year’s Day Penguin Plunge would be leaving the island.
The news surprised me. As long as I’ve been familiar with of the island of Jamestown, I’ve been familiar with the plunge. While a student at the University of Rhode Island, I even made the trip over with a few of my college buddies to take the swim – fortuitously, I chose a freezing cold year to see what the hype was all about. Although I’ve never taken a swim in Narragansett Bay in January again, I’ve never regretting my decision to do so.
After hearing the initial rumor about the plunge, I told my publisher, Jeff McDonough, who was as surprised as I was. He told me that this was big news – I knew it was significant, but for a longtime islander like Jeff, it even hit closer to home.
He said something along the lines of, “If it’s true, it’s our lead story.” I was thinking the same thing – top fold.
So I made a phone call. Unfortunately for the town, the rumor was confirmed.
Little did I know, in less than two months a group of islanders would organize another plunge. Under the direction of Bob Bailey, who coordinates the Fourth of July fireworks – and with a little shove from my boss – the group found sponsors, arranged police and fire details, convinced the Town Council, and basically, in six short weeks, gave birth to a new island tradition.
The Jamestown 1st Day Plunge is Sunday at noon at East Ferry. Every islander who is capable of getting to the town beach on New Year’s Day should show up and support the people who took the time to keep the plunge in Jamestown. Although Special Olympics Rhode Island won’t receive the donations this year, other causes will. This year the group has chosen the Josh Barber Fund, which was created to provide care for people fighting depression.
The year’s plunge won’t be the alcohol-laden frat party that the 2011 Penguin Plunge reminded some people of. It’ll be a family-friendly event – which makes it a true Jamestown tradition.
Happy New Year from everyone at the Press.
— Tim Riel