Starting the new year with a splash

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Trisha Cosgrove and Vinnie Sutcliffe emerge from the plunge carrying the American flag.

2012 was, in many ways, an exhausting year for most Brigantine residents. This year’s Polar Bear Plunge was a great way to start the New Year – a baptism, if you will, to start anew.

The plunge relocated to the beach in front of the Laguna Grill this year, as two elements dictated a change in venue: a smaller beach at the north sea wall due to the beach erosion from Sandy, as well as the continued growth of the event. The decision appeared to be a great one.

Approximately 8,000 spectators watched 1,200 to 1,500 “swimmers” take the plunge in water temperature that was estimated to be 48 degrees Fahrenheit. Reporters at the event included the Press of Atlantic City as well as crews from Philadelphia television stations CBS-3 and 6-ABC covered the intrepid participants.

The zaniness of the event increases with the creativity of the costumes. The winners of the costume contest this year (individual category) were Mike Kuharik as “Jack Sparrow,” Dennis Roberts as “Cereal Killer,” and Billy Bryan’s “Screw Sandy.” Group winners were Rose Kelly, Gerry Reardon and Renee Nolan as “Jumping off the Fiscal Cliff;” and the Jimenez family (Maria, Carmen, Jenny and Eduardo), who dubbed themselves “Plunger Heads.” Both group winners repeated their success from last year.

Prizes were donated by Linda Camerota, Jeff Hoffberger, Linda Morris and St George's Pub.

The annual event raises money for the Fisher House, a nonprofit organization that helps wounded veterans and their families with their expenses. John Hand, one of the co-founders of the event, said they were on track to improve over last year, when more than $48,000 was raised, but pledges and shirt sales were still ongoing and yet to be counted.

Lead sponsors were National Van Lines and Laguna Grill, who both contributed $2,500. The VFW and American Legion contributed $2,000 each. Music was provided by the Motts Creek Pickers.

Photos by Keri O'Connor

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