Story by Lourice Angie
The Warwick Valley Humane Society (WVHS) held its annual “Go Jump in the Lake Polar Plunge” on Sun., Feb. 18 and it was the perfect day with sunny and unusually mild weather. Proceeds from this event will benefit the “pound pets” cared for at the Warwick Animal Shelter.
The event, very similar to the New Year’s Day polar plunges held in Brooklyn’s Coney Island, takes place during the annual Winter Carnival at the Breezy Point Inn, located at 620 Jersey Ave. in Greenwood Lake, which offers panoramic views of the western shore of Greenwood Lake.
The Breezy Point Inn has sponsored the Winter Carnival for the last 18 years. This three-day event was held over President’s Day weekend from Fri., Feb. 16 to Sun., Feb 18 and it included fun activities such as the annual torch lighting ceremony, a beer tasting dinner buffet, a frozen T-shirt contest, toilet paper race contests, the selection of Miss Winter Carnival, a bonfire, live musical entertainment, and the WVHS “Go Jump in the Lake Polar Plunge.”
Peter Pakola, the owner of the Breezy Point Inn and his hardworking staff did not rest as they worked to keep guests served and accommodated throughout the day. There was a total of 27 participants from throughout the tri-state area and beyond who were brave enough to take the plunge into the icy waters of Greenwood Lake. Many brought family and pets with them to show support. All jumpers needed to be 18 years of age or older and wear closed shoes. The first 25 registrants received free caps. Changing rooms were provided courtesy of the Breezy Point Inn.
The Breezy was packed with people, most cheering with enthusiasm as plungers made final preparations. Elite swim coach, expert Olympian and tri-athlete, Boris Talan, traveled from New York City to Greenwood Lake to join the plunge. The premiere swimming coach, who swam the English Channel in 2006, now offers swim lessons to adults and children.
Talan, who is an expert of swimming in cold conditions, expressed how impressed he was by the local community effort to help support animals saying, “This is very special to me because I was invited by friends who now live in Greenwood Lake. I’m impressed by seeing this great community. You can just feel the good energy. It’s the right place to be.”
Safety precautions were in place and Greenwood Lake Police Officers Michael Finn and Gregory Hart, of the Police Ice Rescue Team, were on hand. In addition, there was an ambulance and EMT staff on standby courtesy of the Greenwood Lake Ambulance Corps.
At 3 p.m., plungers hit the icy waters in waves of four at a time. The crowd cheered loudly as each group made their way onto the deck and into the water.
Schneider Wins Grand Prize
This year’s grand prize winner was Jennifer Schneider, of Greenwood Lake, who raised $1,325 in donations for the WVHS by creating an account on the crowdrise fundraising site. Schneider has adopted two cats and is passionate about the welfare, safety and care of animals.
Schneider plunged in a sequin black, silver and gold dress and as a promise to Bernie Fink of Greenwood True Value, who sponsored her for the polar plunge, she wore a life vest with a sign that read, “Thank you for sponsoring the WVHS 2018 Polar Plunge. Check out Greenwood Lake True Value’s new logo!”
Plunger Lisa Marie Harden McGrath came in second with $665 in sponsorship and said, “It was exuberating. It feels amazing. The last thing I thought of before I jumped in the lake was a puppy.” In the end, the event raised over $3,000 for the pound pets this year.
Suzyn Barron, president of the WVHS and Michelle Little gave special thanks to Peter Pakola, the owner of the Breezy Point Inn, their manager Miriam and the entire staff; the G.L. Ambulance Corps, Captain Bob Ackerson and the crew; Officer Hart and Officer Finn of the G.L. Police Ice Rescue; Blanket Boss owner Barney Lapolito for creating the banner and sweatshirts; sponsors Fischer’s Auto Repair of Warwick; A Fine Line, Hudson Valley Earthworks, Grays Trucking & Excavating, Black Bear Wine & Spirits, and the Capacity Group, all from Greenwood Lake; and a special thanks to Jenn Schneider, who raised the most in sponsorships, Lisa Marie Harden McGrath and to all of the participants!!
“We couldn’t have done this without all of you! Thank you doesn’t seem to express our gratitude enough,” said Michelle Little.
To make a donation or to become a volunteer at the Humane Society in Warwick NY, call 986-2473, or visit www.wvhumane.org or facebook.com/Warwick Valley Humane Society. To view more photos, visit our website at www.wvdispatch.com.