Long Island Sound plunge planned, despite frigid weather

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Wintertime is not when you’d expect to see crowds of people plunging into Long Island Sound, but that’s what will happen on New Year’s Day for a good cause. It’s called the Plunge for Parks; it raises money for parks in New Haven.

People come from all over the state to do the plunge at Lighthouse Point Park in New Haven. Last year about 200 people were brave enough to go in the cold water. However, this year it’s expected to be quite a bit chillier.

Organizers expect this year will be the coldest in the 16 years they’ve had the event, but they decided to plunge forward with it anyway.

“We gave it some thought this year but we said no, we’ll go ahead,” said Margaret Ottenbreit, president of the Elm City Parks Conservancy. “There’s people who will come.”

Dr. Fred Tilden of Hartford Hospital says plunging into water this cold is risky. He also says this year it’ll be more important than ever warm up quickly after getting out of the water.

“Be smart. Be in the water very briefly,” he said. “Always be there with a friend.”

Dr. Tilden says those taking the plunge should be physically fit.

“You have to be a very healthy person,” he said. “You specifically can’t have any risk for heart disease or have any heart disease yourself.”

That’s why organizers of the Plunge for Parks aren’t taking any chances. They’ll have a hot tub outside so people can warm up, as well as heated tents. They’re trying to make sure that everyone stays warm, whether they brave the cold water or they’re just there to watch.

“We have heaters inside, which we don’t usually have,” Ottenbreit said. “But with enough people inside the carousel building it does warm up.”

The plunge is part of a winter festival, which will include a band, tours of the lighthouse and a brunch.

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