DORCHESTER, N.B. – Dorchester’s annual tradition will continue once again this year as dozens of brave souls get set to jump into the frigid waters of Palmer’s Pond for the village’s New Year’s Day polar dip.
Plans are well under way for this year’s event, which is celebrating 25 years, and organizers are hoping lots of dippers will turn out in support of the annual fundraiser, which is sponsored by the Dorchester Lions Club.
“It’s a bracing way to start the new year,” said Dan Matthews, a Lions Club member and organizer of the event.
The event has been a ritual in the small village since 1994, when three local residents jumped into the pond on a dare. It has continued ever since, raising funds for a variety of local organizations in that time, including the Bob Edgett’s Boys and Girls’ Club, the Dorchester volunteer fire department, the local minor baseball association, and other community projects.
Matthews said the number of dippers tends to vary from year to year, often depending on the weather, but usually the event attracts anywhere from 25 to 40 jumpers. As well as village residents, the dippers over the years have come from areas such as Moncton, Riverview, Dieppe and nearby Nova Scotia, and even some from international locales, to take part in the New Year’s Day custom.
He said he’s not sure what draws people to take the plunge every year – perhaps it’s an experience they want to check off their ‘bucket list’ or simply something that tweaks their interest. Whatever the attraction, the dippers are guaranteed to have a good time, he said.
“We try to make it as much fun as we can. . . .and it goes no matter what the weather.”
Members of the local fire department look after cutting the hole in the ice every year and are also on hand as a safety precaution pulling people out of the water when necessary and keeping the spectators off the ice.
The festivities start precisely at 1 p.m. and, if you’re late, you’ll miss the entire event – participants don’t stay in long.
Because it is a fundraiser, participants are asked to collect pledges or pay a $25 registration fee for the event. Matthews suggested obtaining a registration form ahead of time by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to make it easier the day of the dip or visit the Dorchester Lions Club Facebook page for more information. Donations will also be collected from observers during the event, with those proceeds going to the Tantramar 681 Air Cadet Squadron.
Many of the dippers and those who come out to watch continue their New Year’s Day celebration at the New Year’s levee, which is held at the Keillor House following the dip.
Helpful Hints for dippers:
–Showing up in costume or fancy dress is encouraged.
–Arrive at the dipping site by 12:30 p.m. to register.
–Wear a pair of old sneakers or flip flops. The bottom is muddy.
–Bring a robe or large towel. You want to stay as warm as you can while waiting your turn.
–If you have received a registration form, have it filled out and present it, with your fee, to the registrar.