SOUTHINGTON - A mild Saturday didnâ€™t make the water any warmer for more than 175 jumpers who plunged into a freezing cold pond to help send children to Camp Sloper this summer.
â€śThis is perfect plunging weather,â€ť John Myers, executive director of the local YMCA, said at the organizationâ€™s 13th Annual Sloper Plunge.
â€śEveryone here gets it. We simplify it: Itâ€™s for the kids,â€ť Myers continued, wearing shorts in the middle of January on the sandy shore of Sloper Pond. â€śItâ€™s a simple message, but it resonates with the community.â€ť
Although the temperature on Saturday rose into the mid 40s, staff with the camp still had to cut through about eight inches of ice to carve a plunging area for the charity event, which raises money from participants that is used to send children and teens to the camp for the summer.
Jackie Nadeau, one of many brave plungers, grew up going to Camp Sloper and later went on to work there. She jumped in the icy waters on behalf of the YMCA, as she still works for the organization.
â€śI grew up at this camp, so itâ€™s so fun raising money to send kids here,â€ť said Nadeau, who has participated in the plunge every year since its inception.
Nadeau added that the whole event is very fun, and that jumping into the cold water is not as bad as one would think.
â€śItâ€™s the anticipation that gets you,â€ť she said.
Sabina Vance participated with two of her colleagues from Derynoski Elementary School. The trio said it was their first time taking the plunge, adding that they hope to have more representation from the school next year.
â€śWeâ€™re excited. I love this camp, my kids go to this camp and I think all kids should have a chance to go to camp,â€ť Vance said, wearing a tutu and a dragon hat, symbolizing the schoolâ€™s dragon mascot.
Many other plungers also took the opportunity of the event to dress up in things like shark outfits, jellyfish costumes or, like the group representing Lake Compounce, characters from the Star Wars movies.
Richard Kudla, dressed like Princess Leia, was accompanied by his colleagues dressed like BB-8, Rey and Kylo Ren.
â€śItâ€™s my first time doing it,â€ť Kudla said. â€śIâ€™m warm right now, so weâ€™ll see.â€ť
â€śIn and out,â€ť Kudla said of his game plan for the plunge.
Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or firstname.lastname@example.org.