2005-12-29 / About Town

March of the penguins comes to Jamestown

The 30th annual Penguin Plunge will take place at noon on New Year’s Day at Mackerel Cove town beach.

The plunge is a New Year’s tradition in Jamestown. People strip to their swimsuits on the beach. Frigid water and cold air do not deter them. When the fire station horn blows precisely at noon, they whoop and holler while running at full tilt toward the dizzyingly cold water.

For about a minute, or until their lips turn blue, the plungers flap their arms and squawk like penguins, although penguins do perform with a bit more decorum. Then they waddle back to the beach where there is usually someone to wrap a large towel or blanket around their quivering white flesh.

The annual event is one of the largest fund-raisers for Rhode Island Special Olympics, which trains mentally-disabled athletes to compete in a variety of sports.

Mike McGovern, the director of Special Olympics, said that last year’s plunge raised some $85,000 and included between 600 and 700 people who happily jumped into the freezing waters of Mackerel Cove for the cause.

New this year will be commemorative rubber bracelets that say “Jamestown-Penguin Plunge” on a black band, on sale for $3.

McGovern said that the Jamestown Police Station will open at 9 a.m. for participant registrations, and people can also register by downloading the form on the Web site at www.specialolympics. org.

Call 823-7411 for more information.

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