Narrowly avoiding a chilly drizzle to match the bracing waters of the Brandywine Creek, some 200-plus “Plungers” gathered for a late morning splash at the 10th annual Brandywine Red Clay Alliance’s Polar Plunge.
The “Plungers” raised roughly $13,000 in entrance fees, fund raising efforts, and sponsorships, for the nonprofit BRCA, one of the area’s oldest and largest watershed conservation organizations.
From those who dashed in and then dashed right back out, to bold swimmers who headed for the far shore, to folks who stopped just long enough for a selfie, the “Plungers” ran the gamut of all manner of age and bravura.
Although the air temperature was a reasonable 52 degrees, the creek ran a brisk 38 degrees – not freezing, necessarily, but nothing to sniff about.
And not cold enough to stop 246 people from getting their tootsies wet.
With prizes awarded for best costume and most money raised, among others, some folks really embrace the day and take full advantage of the potential for absurdity.
Like Mike Murphy, of Downingtown, Pa., who has Plunged nine times out of 10 – each time in costume, for which he is a two-time “Golden Plunger” winner, including for this year’s getup as “Ariel” from “The Little Mermaid.”
“It’s fun; this is a blast,” said Murphy, a West Chester School District employee. “Everyone at [BRCA] is great, especially with their educational outreach.”
Steve Wood, who – along with a group roughly 30 people – was celebrating his upcoming 50th birthday, jokingly considered the day a party in his favor.
“And, I should add, it’s for a good cause,” he said, adding that this was his sixth Plunge. “I love it – it’s very refreshing.”
The Plunge also attracts a number of civic and social organizations, including West Chester University Phi Sigma Pi members Megan Gernhardt and Jack Horne, who were both on their first Plunge ever.
“It was a shock, but I’m glad we did it,” she laughed, adding that they both went completely under water. “I’d do it again – next year, we’ll bring more people.”
Jerry Kreider, 75 of Pocopson, Pa., shared a grandfather/granddaughter moment for his 10th consecutive Plunge, as 18-year-old Autumn Hart joined him for her fifth time.
When asked why he keeps doing it year after year, Kreider just shook his head.
“We don’t know any better,” he said with a nod.
Although the Plunge and the BRCA are both located in Pennsylvania, BRCA executive director Jim Jordan, a longtime Hockessin resident, said that the Brandywine Creek supplies residents of the City of Wilmington with their daily water.
“The same water we’re Plunging in today, they’ll be drinking in Wilmington tomorrow,” he said.
For more information, visit brandywineredclay.org.