2018-01-04 / Front Page

BITTER COLD NIXES FIRST DAY PLUNGE

BY ROBERT BERCZUK


Dangerously cold temperatures didn’t stop Jake Froberg, from left, Connor Froberg, Hayes Rembijas, Kyle Froberg, Steve Froberg, Bart Totten and Dan Smith from plunging into Mackerel Cove on New Year’s Day. The official Jamestown First Day Plunge, which was scheduled to be at East Ferry, was canceled because of the frigid weather and negative wind-chill temperature. 
PHOTO BY DARLENE FROBERG Dangerously cold temperatures didn’t stop Jake Froberg, from left, Connor Froberg, Hayes Rembijas, Kyle Froberg, Steve Froberg, Bart Totten and Dan Smith from plunging into Mackerel Cove on New Year’s Day. The official Jamestown First Day Plunge, which was scheduled to be at East Ferry, was canceled because of the frigid weather and negative wind-chill temperature. PHOTO BY DARLENE FROBERG For the first time in its 42-year history, the annual Jamestown First Day Plunge was canceled due to the bitter cold snap enveloping the region.

Event founder Bob Bailey said “out of an abundance of caution” the New Year’s Day tradition was scrapped.

While water temperatures would have been in their usual mid-30s, the frigid temperatures were in the single digits Monday with wind chills in the negatives. Organizers worried some plungers may develop frostbite or other health issues so, after conversations with several town officials, made the decision Saturday to cancel the event.

“It was kind of a hard decision to let a tradition end,” Bailey said. “It’s kind of like the year without a Santa Claus.”

It was the first of several area plunges to cancel or postpone their events, as Newport, Narragansett, Westerly and Fall River all followed suit before the weekend was finished. Portsmouth did have its plunge Monday.

New Year’s Day plunges have taken place in some form in Jamestown waters since the mid-1970s. For 35 years, the Special Olympics had its annual Penguin Plunge at East Ferry and Mackerel Cove until it was relocated to Roger Wheeler State Beach in Narragansett in 2012 for liability reasons.

Besides it serving as a way to ring in the new year, the event also serves as a fundraiser. This year the money is being donated to a memorial fund honoring Will Kitts, a lifelong Jamestowner and volunteer firefighter who died in a motorcycle accident in August at age 33. Proceeds also benefited the Beavertail Lighthouse Museum Association and for tour maps printed by the Jamestown Historical Society.

Typically, the organizers donate $7,500 to the designated charities, but Bailey isn’t sure how much will be available this year due to the cancellation. Money still was raised from corporate sponsors and the sale of shirts and hats at other events in town Monday connected with the plunge.

Bailey said organizers may do a plunge-type event later in the year — possibly March 18 — to further their fundraising goals and still carry on the plunge tradition.

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