Penguin Plunge is 'freezin' for a reason'

By Christian Mysliwiec - Staff Writer
Ellington, South Windsor - posted Fri., Mar. 29, 2013
Having successfully plunged, the South Windsor Police Team rushes out of Crystal Lake. Photos by Christian Mysliwiec.
Having successfully plunged, the South Windsor Police Team rushes out of Crystal Lake. Photos by Christian Mysliwiec.

It was roughly 37 degrees on the shore of Crystal Lake in Ellington on the morning of Saturday, March 23, but persistent, biting winds made it feel much colder. Although bystanders were bundled up in gloves and jackets trying to stay warm, some brave souls made do with pajamas, bath robes and even penguin costumes. Even these were soon discarded in favor of bathing suits alone before running into the extremely cold water.

But it was all for a good cause – every “plunger” had to raise at least $75 in order to participate in the second annual Penguin Plunge, which benefited the Connecticut Special Olympics.

Roseanne Sapula is the heart and soul of South Windsor's signature team, the Penguin Wannabees. Their fundraising slogan is “Freezin' for a Reason.” While the plunging area, and most of the water near the lake's shore, was ice-free, a frozen layer could be seen further into the lake. “We really will be 'freezin' for a reason' this time,” said Sapula. For her, though, the punishing cold is all part of the fun – in fact, she hardly considered it a challenge last year, when the team plunged in 80-degree weather.

“Basically, it's to raise awareness for the Special Olympics and to raise funds,” said event organizer Agent Ron Littell of the South Windsor Police Department. He was happy with the large number of people willing to brave the cold and make the plunge. “For the conditions right now, it's a surprising turnout,” he said.

According to Littell, about 113 people made the plunge. The event raised more than $34,000 for the Connecticut Special Olympics. Awards went out to notable participants. Sapula received the top fundraiser award, and her team, the Penguin Wannabees, won the top group fundraising award. The South Windsor Police Department won the top public service team award, and the Windsor Locks Public Schools team won the top school team award. The best group costume went to the Krazy Krew, and a Wonder Woman look-alike got the best individual costume award. Awards will be presented during a ceremony at the South Windsor Town Council on Monday, April 22 .

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