It wasn’t just a white Christmas on Monday. It was also a wild Christmas with sudden winds picking up mid-morning that progressed into horizontal snow and sleet, downing trees and power lines throughout Tri-Town. Still, the weather left those at the Mattapoisett Town Beach for the annual Christmas Day Swim sponsored by Helping Hands and Hooves willing participants in a plunge of the polar kind.
The Christmas swim, now in its sixteenth year, has become a Christmas Day tradition for some folks. Take Don Cuddy, who has been plunging since the event first began. Cuddy has a few survival techniques of his own, including a fuzzy insulated hot water bottle ironically embroidered with the words “Love is Sleep,” which he refers to as his “secret weapon.”
Pat Goss was still ‘ho ho ho-ing’ in her Santa Claus costume after the plunge, mainly because she didn’t actually take the plunge, instead adding to the festive feeling merely by being present, alongside Pam Humphrey with her ski poles– also not a plunger – whose warm, cozy, down puffer jacket kept plunge participants reminded of how insane they were for running full speed ahead into the winter waters.
Just about an hour before the whistle signaling the moment to fully immerse oneself into the cold ocean was sounded, a sudden near whiteout ‘snownado’ swept through the area, blanketing the beach in silvery snow and ice. Which is probably why this year’s Christmas Day Swim saw the lowest turnout ever – 26 plungers, to be exact.
Still, even if only taking in $15 per plunger times 26, the nonprofit organization will continue to provide local adults with developmental disabilities the chance to participate in therapeutic horseback riding activities and receive horseback riding lessons free of charge.
Founded and facilitated by Debbi Dyson and Julie Craig, Helping Hands and Hooves is a qualified 501(c)(3), set on Craig’s working farm on Aucoot Road in Mattapoisett, that is funded through donations and grants. For further information, visit www.helpinghandsandhooves.org.
By Jean Perry