Penguin Plunge preparations proceeding, possible plowing predicted

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Ellington - posted Thu., Feb. 3, 2011
Brave souls head into the frigid water at last year’s Penguin Plunge. File photo by Jessica Ciparelli.
Brave souls head into the frigid water at last year’s Penguin Plunge. File photo by Jessica Ciparelli.


Although the date is about a month away groups of brave (or the good kind of crazy) volunteers are already preparing to take an icy dip into Crystal Lake, for the Special Olympics Connecticut Penguin Plunge on March 12.

Marc Mercadante, the eastern regional director for Special Olympics Connecticut, said he expects the largest turnout yet, as the event has grown each of its four years. The organization, in conjunction with the town of Ellington, is doing its best to ensure the large amount of snowfall will not interfere with the fun.

“With all the snow we've had, people have called us to ask how we'll be able to do it,” Mercadante said. “We've been meeting continuously, and we will find a way to cart all of that snow off the beach, and out of the parking lot, and cut out the ice.”

Mercadante said the only thing that will postpone the plunge is a large storm the day of or the day before. The backup date is when?

About 186 people came to immerse themselves in the frigid water last year.

“We've had a great response from a lot of local people,” Mercadante said. “There's a group of people called the Crazy Crew who live right around the lake area, and a group from South Windsor that has 45-50 people called the 'penguin wannabes'.”

Groups from South Windsor, East Hartford, and RHAM High Schools are also expected to take part.

Plungers must raise a minimum donation of $50, and are encouraged to dress in costume. Incentive prizes, such as t-shirts and gift cards, will also be given to those who raise more than $100. Awards are given to the most creatively dressed, as well as individuals and groups that raise the most funds.

Mercadante said the event is also safe, including divers who will make sure the area is clear of dangers, and EMT personnel from Tolland Dive and Rescue, who will be on hand.

Maneeley's, The Red Onion and local Girl Scout troops will be providing snacks and hot drinks for plungers and volunteers. KISS-95.7's Renee DeNino will emcee the event.

For more information, or to donate, visit, or call 860-887-1555.

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