ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Matt Manning took to Short Beach in Nahant a week early to promote the New Year’s Day plunge.
By GAYLA CAWLEY
NAHANT — The name says it all, as people voluntarily plunging themselves into chilly water at Short Beach on New Year’s Day will be “Freezin’ for a Reason.”
At noon on Sunday, Jan. 1, more than 200 people are expected to dash into the Atlantic Ocean at Short Beach, behind the Nahant Coast Guard Station/Life-Saving Station.
“I just think it’s on a lot of people’s bucket lists,” said George Sonia, an organizer. “I know it sounds crazy but we have a lot of fun.”
Sonia said the event started 10 years ago merely as a way to fulfill an item on his own bucket list. Before it became a fundraiser three years ago, taking on the “Freezin’ for a Reason” name, people simply plunged into the ocean to to have fun.
The Lynn event is organized by George and Stephanie Sonia, and Patricia, Mario and Nicholas Capano. Past charitable efforts have included raising funds for a handicap golf cart for Gannon Golf Course and a splash pad for Greater Lynn Special Needs Camp. The event has raised more than $20,000 in its first two years as a fundraiser.
This year, funds will be donated to “Homes for Our Troops,” which builds mortgage-free, specially adapted homes nationwide for severely injured veterans post 9/11, to enable them to rebuild their lives.
“They sacrifice so much for us that we thought we could give back to them,” Sonia said. “Everybody’s in the giving spirit and we wanted to give back to them.”
Sonia said there’s not much preparation someone can do for the polar plunge. He advises wearing water shoes, as the event is usually held during low tide and there’s quite a bit of running involved.
State Rep. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn) said he’ll also be taking the plunge. He got involved because he’s a friend of the Sonia family, but also thinks it is a good community event. He said his strategy is to make sure he’s fully dunked into the water and is hoping the day’s temperatures don’t follow the recent weather pattern.
“The amount of people that show up now for the cause is awesome,” Crighton said. “It’s people from all over Lynn, all different backgrounds. It’s fun.”
There is a $25 entrance fee and participants will received a long sleeved T-shirt. Registration is at 11:30 a.m. After the plunge, participants can make their way to Rolly’s Tavern on the Square in Lynn. Twenty percent of the restaurant’s proceeds will benefit the fundraiser. Raffle tickets, gift baskets, T-shirts and other items will be sold.
For more information, visit http://www.myhfotusa.org/freezinforareason.
Gayla Cawley can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley