It was a seasonable 44 degrees in downtown Bethany Beach on the first day of 2006 — and only a few degrees chillier in the water — but more than 275 intrepid splashers signed up to join in the annual New Year’s Day ocean plunge.
The 10th Annual Leo Brady Exercise Like the Eskimos drew nearly 100 pre-registered splashers in the weeks leading up to the event, and despite the wintery temperatures, nearly twice that many people came out and signed up on the spot.
That’s compared with the more than 300 splashers who turned out in 2005, with temperatures that soared to a vastly unseasonable 70 degrees.
Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce Event Coordinator Amy Tingle said that between the change in temperatures and a slight change in venue — from Garfield Parkway and the Bethany Beach bandstand to Campbell Place, due to the new bandstand project — the slightly lower turnout was deemed to be quite the success.
“We’re pleased,” Tingle said.
Whether they came for tradition’s sake in the event’s 10th year, or for the sake of a good cause — the Quiet Resorts Charitable Foundation and its scholarship program — not even brisk winds were enough to keep them home on Sunday.
In fact, Team Neptune — captained by Anna Norris and Nancy Jordan — managed to line up 22 splashers and bring home the coveted Iceberg Trophy for the largest team. The Freezer Geezers were close behind with an impressive team of 10.
Tingle said the final tally on the amount raised for the QRCF was still being calculated, with net proceeds all going to the foundation.
In addition to the registration fees from the splashers, the Chamber also sold commemorative shirts honoring the 10th anniversary event. And towels for the participants were long gone to the pre-registered and early risers on the day of the splash.
Also popular again in 2006 was the newest aspect of the New Year’s Day event: the Hometown Pet Show, in its fifth iteration this year. Tingle said more than 70 pets of all sizes and shapes had turned out to compete in categories for tiny, gigantic, owner look-alikes and best-dressed, as well as a people’s-choice favorite.
Proceeds from the registration fees for the event were split this year, for the first time, between the Bethany Town Cats and the Safe Haven Pet Refuge — a no-kill pet shelter. Donations of pet food were also accepted at the pet show location.
Between the two aspects of the annual Jan. 1 tradition in the coastal town, the town’s boardwalk was filled to the brim with spectators and well-wishers. They can look forward to a 2007 event hosted on the town’s new bandstand.