IRVINGTON, N.Y. -- Despite warming temperatures, swimsuit season is still far on the horizon. ... Unless you live in Irvington.
Hundreds of locals gathered at Matthiessen Park Beach on Sunday, April 6, for the third annual Penguin Plunge, a fund-raising event for the Village of Irvington's Parks and Recreation Department. Individuals and teams that had spent anywhere from a couple of days to a whole year fund-raising donned their most creative costumes and swimwear before taking a plunge into the chilly Hudson River, which measured at 35 degrees.
The inaugural event took place in 2011 after the village was facing substantial cuts to their budget. These cuts threatened valuable programs for residents. Mayor Brian Smith established the independent Fundraising and Community Events (FACE) committee in 2010 to find a way to continue to provide these programs, and FACE in turn established the Plunge.
According to chairman of the committee Michael Glantz, a 20-year Irvington resident, the first plunge raised almost $80,000 and quickly became one of the most well-attended events in town.
"This is easily the biggest day in town after July 4th," Smith said, "It's kind of funny, because this event is what raises money so we can continue to provide fireworks for that celebration."
Smith has participated in the plunge every year since its inception, and raises roughly $10,000 each year, making him the top contributor.
"It's not going to be easy (jumping into the river,) but it's worth it and a fun day for everyone," he said.
Though Smith did take home the prize for most money fundraised, a resident nearly gave him a run for his money, earning $3,800 in just four days.
Joe Dumas of Dobbs Ferry decided four days ago to enter the Plunge in his hometown of Irvington.
"I figured it was about time to give back to the place that gave so much to me," he said.
Monique Reilly of Larchmont and her team, "Fans of Joe Archino," came to support the superintendent of Parks and Recreation, who also happens to be her brother-in-law. Their team raised approximately $2,000.
"This is our first plunge," she said, "We wanted to come support Joe and honor his hard work. I'm very nervous about jumping into this river, but I'm going to do it."
The top team contributor award was given to the Irvington Ultimate Frisbee Team, which raised $3,390. The top individual contributor award was given to Mayor Brian Smith, who raised $10,500. Overall, the event was estimated to raise about $60,000.