2018-02-01 / Front Page

Plunge redo set to be a St. Patrick’s Day affair

Annual event postponed due to bitter cold temperatures

Organizers are counting on the luck of the Irish to summon better weather than Baby New Year was able to.

Brave souls have welcomed the new year by plunging into Narragansett Bay annually since the 1970s, but the 2018 edition was scrapped because of dangerously cold weather. To keep the tradition intact, the Jamestown First Day Plunge has been rebranded into the St. Patty’s Day Splash.

According to co-founder Bob Bailey, the plunge is status quo aside from the date and name. The event is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 18 on the town beach at East Ferry. There will be fire pits, food trucks, live music and souvenirs.

“Same time, same place, same bat channel,” Bailey said.

Proceeds, which will benefit the eighth-grade field trip to Washington, D.C., are being donated in honor of Will Kitts, a native Jamestowner who died in August from a motorcycle accident. Kitts, 33, was a volunteer firefighter who worked as a custodian in the school district.

Registered plungers who donate $20 will receive a commemorative T-shirt. The design depicts a penguin, the event’s mascot, riding a motorcycle from Beavertail Lighthouse. The penguin has Kitts’ trademark beard and baseball cap.

Registration forms and waivers from the Jan. 1 plunge are valid. There is no need to register again for the March event. Newcomers can download forms at the Jamestown First Day Plunge Facebook page. Andy Wade, parks and recreation director, said registration also is available at the recreation center, 41 Conanicus Ave., and online at jamestown.recdesk.com.

In related news, plunge organizers will sell merchandise during a pasta supper from 5-8 p.m. Friday at Melrose School. Admission is $10; children under 12 will receive a $5 discount. Like the Kitts fund, proceeds will benefit the Lawn School field trip in June, which costs $900 per student. Along with visiting the nation’s most important landmarks, including the Washington Monument, the White House and the Lincoln Memorial, the trip is a last hurrah for Jamestown students who will attend out-of-town high schools in the fall.

“Our community’s support is essential,” volunteer Lisa Tuttle said.

The fundraiser will include a silent auction and raffles with more than 75 prizes. The wait-staff of eighth-graders will serve Italian bread, tossed salad, ziti, meatballs and homemade desserts.

Special Olympics Rhode Island introduced the plunge to Jamestown in 1977, first at Mackerel Cove then East Ferry. In November 2011, however, the group decided to relocate the event to Narragansett’s Roger Wheeler State Beach for liability reasons. In two short months, Bailey and a team of volunteers organized the inaugural Jamestown First Day Plunge for New Year’s Day 2012. The morning following St. Patrick’s Day 2018 will mark the seventh successful plunge independent of the Special Olympics.

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