PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
Andrew Richard, Amanda Skahan and Ashley Donovan, from left, all of Lynn, emerge from taking a dip at Short Beach in Nahant on New Year’s Day.
BY JACQLYN CULWELL
Every year, volunteers from the North Shore trade their New Year’s Day mornings for a chilly few seconds in the ocean, all to benefit good causes.
The freeze-fest started at 11 a.m. Friday when participants from Swampscott took the Polar Bear Plunge at Fisherman’s Beach. The hearty souls dashed into the water to honor Swampscott residents Billy Ryan and Darren Spinney, both of whom died in September. Proceeds from the plunge will be split between the All-Blue Foundation and The Spinney Children Education Fund.
Malachy McAdams, a 12-year-old from Marblehead who did the plunge for the third year in a row, said that the cold dip is helping him train for the USA Junior Olympic Luge Team. Accompanied by his parents, Chris and Kelly and their dog Ruffles, they were glad to donate to the cause.
“I do this because it’s fun,” Malachy said with a smile on his face, wrapped tightly in a towel. “I was out of the water faster than I was in. You wear shoes because it’s rocky. It was cold, so cold!”
Chuck Borgioli, Ed Palleschi and Steve Hunt of Swampscott took the plunge together to honor Spinney. Borgioli, who arrived at 9:30 to start the fire, stood with a smile as he warmed up. Hunt took the plunge for Spinney and the Swampscott High swim team after his run in the Salem Road Race; and Palleschi arrived just in time to jump into the water.
“This was our first time and we did it for Darren,” Borgioli said, alongside his friends. “It was freezing but worth it.”
At noon on Short Beach in Nahant, citizens of Lynn gathered together to take their own chilly dip, called “Freezin’ for a Reason.” This year, the beneficiary was the Lynn Special Needs Camp in hopes to raise money to help buy a splash pad.
Pat Finnigan and his older brother Terry stood among the crowd after the plunge.
“Oh my God,” Pat Finnigan shivered. “I woke up this morning and I said why not. It’s my first year and even though it was cold, it felt good to do it. What better way to start off the New Year than to be as awake as possible?”
“We’re hearty New Englanders taking the plunge for a good cause and after this we’re going skiing in Vermont!” Terry Finnegan said.
Fellow Lynner Sean Reid stood, wrapped in a towel like many others, warming up after taking the plunge as well.
“I can’t even describe the feeling. I was all tingly. It was cold but it’s going to a good cause so I was happy to do it.”
Classical High School staff members Christine Lander and Laura Durant stood with their sister, Beth Watson, and good friend George Sonia of Lancelot Janitorial after taking the plunge.
“After this, we’re going to Tony’s Pub,” Sonia said. “Proceeds are going to the fund. This whole thing really is awesome,” said Sonia.
Brendan Crighton, a representative of Lynn, who also took the plunge, was happy to see everyone.
“It was everything I thought it would be and more. This is the biggest crowd I’ve seen. It really is for a great cause and I’m glad to be a part of it.”