East Windsor Takes "Panther Plunge" for Fuel Bank

By Tom Phelan - Staff Writer
Eat Windsor - posted Wed., Mar. 9, 2011
'There's only one way to do this...' and that's to rush in without thinking about it. Photos by Tom Phelan.
'There's only one way to do this...' and that's to rush in without thinking about it. Photos by Tom Phelan.

No one seemed to know what the temperature of the water was in East Windsor Park Lake. Certainly it was cold enough to freeze the surface to a depth of more than 8 inches. But the EWFD had cut away a large enough portion of the area at the beach to allow for some very courageous swimmers to take the “Panther Plunge” on Sat. Mar 5.

Swimmers paid a $15 fee for the privilege of casting all caution to the wind and crashing into the frigid waters of the lake. The fees, as well as money donated by Rockville Bank and other sponsors and groups, will be donated to the East Windsor Fuel Bank, according to EW Parks and Recreation Director, Melissa Maltese.

Plungers attacked the water in three groups. The first group was kids under 18. For the most part they were willing to not only get into the water, they splashed around as though it were summer. The second group included individuals over 18, but not affiliated with a group, and the third were those in the upper age bracket who needed group support in order to take the “Plunge.”

“It was a little cold, colder than last year,” said Stacy Strba, as she hurried to dry off and get wrapped up on the beach. Her toes were painted blue, but the rest of her body had a deep pink hue after the five-minute dip. Strba and her companion-in-craziness, Ashley Gallant, said they were “just helping out the community.” They took the plunge for a second year.

Kevin Onofrio was a first-time plunger. He made it all the way back to his car in the parking lot before attempting to get dried off and re-dressed. “It was a little bit colder than I expected,” he said. “I didn’t mean to fall flat on my face [in the water]. But it’s for a good cause.” Invigorated from the chilly dip and the overall experience, Onofrio didn’t hesitate to commit to taking the “Plunge” again next year – “probably….”

In spite of some logistical problems with parking and traffic, most of the “plungers” made a quick trip to nearby Broad Brook Elementary School for a warm-up party and a wrap-up on the morning’s event.

Maltese made a special presentation to Seas Millane, Asst. VP at Rockville Bank for being the Presenting Sponsor and for donating $500. Almost $3,200 in donations and fees was raised for the Fuel Fund.

Marie DeSousa and Jason Bowsza were recognized for having the "Best Costume on Shore" - dressed as the Lollipop Kids and accompanied by their own music. Diana Couture and Quinton Pepin had the "Best Costume in the Water" - dressed as Marge and Homer Simpson. Recognition for the "Most Money raised by an EW student" ($300) was given to Louisa Harmen. Kevin Onofrio was recognized for the "Most Money raised by Individual". The "Most Money raised by a Team" award was won by Marie DeSousa and Jason Bowsza of the East Windsor Democratic Town Committee ($1,200+).


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