Sunday, February 6, 2011
We went up to catch sight of some winter madness in the form of the 7th annual Westfield Penguin Plunge.
We had witnessed the 5th version of this event a couple years ago at the Westfield rotary, and were memorably aghast and delighted enough to head up and give it another look this year.
This time it was held at it's more typical location of Hampton Ponds off route 202. There was a good crowd on hand when we arrived. Along with a radio station truck, a local news crew, tons of spectators and 78 or so completely insane individuals bent on their own extreme discomfort, there were also fire and safety personnel on hand both in and out of the near freezing water.
Really near freezing. 32.8 degrees.
Square-feet-thick blocks of ice were cut out to make room for a brisk January dip...
This is the kind of event you might catch briefly on tv as a nightly-news filler clip from some faraway wooded burg in some particularly loony sector of the nation.
But no. These are our own valley neighbors fearlessly leaping into 32.8 degree water, for the sake of charity.
People you know...
...people you respect...
All of them taken this day with a temporary delirium, a uniting madness and need to do something remarkable for a good cause. A need to take the plunge.
This year's charity proceeds went to the Amelia Park Children's Museum, as worthy a hypothermic risk as any, and netted some $10,000. That ain't peanuts.
But noble as they may be, the stunned look on some participant's faces told a goose-pimply story of regret and a shock back to reality.
Yet oddly, others seemed to suffer no such compunctions.
Some found bravery with mutual support, running in by group of friends, family or team.
Possibly the frigid world of politics are some preparation for this kind of action.