Turkey Day Dip in Ashland Lake yields more than $3,800 for Booster Club

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Griswold - posted Mon., Dec. 2, 2013
'Turkey dippers' brave the frigid waters of Ashland Pond for the Griswold Booster Club on Thanksgiving morning. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.
'Turkey dippers' brave the frigid waters of Ashland Pond for the Griswold Booster Club on Thanksgiving morning. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.

About two dozen people were either brave enough or foolhardy enough to leap into Ashland Pond in Jewett City on Thanksgiving morning in the name of a good cause. The Griswold Athletic Booster Club’s annual Turkey Dip lasted mere seconds, but it was long enough to thoroughly drench and chill the group of athletes, parents, town officials and sports boosters who gathered at the Jacques Cartier Club for the annual ritual, while raising money for GHS sports.

A sudden plunge in temperature to just under the freezing point made the dip a little more daunting than it had been in years past. “The guys are brave this year,” said Booster Club member Joann Kraemer. “It’s been nice the past few years.” In other, not so nice years, organizers have had to chip holes through a layer of ice.

Among the jumpers were two Griswold Middle School teachers who had engaged in a contest of sorts for the past few weeks at school. “We had a couple of buckets set up in front of our classrooms,” said fifth-grade teacher Ray Knolhoff. His students, and those of colleague Laurie LaBossiere, who teaches sixth grade, were asked to vote on who would have to take the plunge. "We raised about $50 of the kids’ pocket change at lunchtime,” he said.

Knolhoff lost the contest by raising the most change, but LaBoissiere said she would join him in the lake. “I couldn’t let him jump alone, since it was my idea,” she said. “Actually a lot of our kids have come to watch.”

Newly-elected First Selectman Kevin Skulczyck also did the jump. “They put an envelope in front of me at Town Hall and said I’m going in,” he said. “'Welcome to the job,' I think it was. Want to go for me?”

Twin sisters and GHS soccer teammates Kaitlyn and Sarah Jarvis said that they were making their first jump at the urging of Kraemer. “She was like, 'We should have each sport try to do it,'” said Kaitlyn. “So we’re just going to do it.”

Jeff Collins, of Griswold, showed up for the event clad in a plush hat shaped like a stuffed turkey, with a bright yellow sports bra under his warmer clothes. He’s been a regular at the event since it was started, he said. “Now it’s going to be a tradition,” he said. “Now I just do it because it’s a good cause and a lot of fun.”

After a half-hour of registration and socializing inside the French Club, the jumpers lined up at the edge of the water and shivered while awaiting their signal. The jump itself lasted less than five seconds – participants threw themselves into the water with abandon, but dashed out at a fast clip towards their “support groups,” who were well-stocked with blankets and dry towels.

“That was unreal,” said Carl Edge, who represented the boys’ soccer team, as he was wrapped up in a quilt.

Geoff and Josh Barrie took the plunge, too, though a few minutes after the rest of the crowd. The brothers take part in the event every year, explained Geoff, but had forgotten about this year’s event until they heard the live broadcast on the radio. “We parked the truck and we ran in,” he said.

The fundraiser netted $3,834 for the Booster Club, said President Pam Getter. The top money-raiser was Gavin Demmico with $1,120, and second place was Melina LaBossiere at $930.

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