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Polar dippers set to ring in New Year in Dorchester

Amy Pidt leaps into the air from the shock of her icy dip in Palmer’s Pond during the 2018 Dorchester polar dip.
Amy Pidt leaps into the air from the shock of her icy dip in Palmer’s Pond during the 2018 Dorchester polar dip. - Scott Doherty

Frigid waters of Palmer’s Pond waiting to welcome brave souls

DORCHESTER, N.B. – Area residents looking for a refreshing way to ring in the new year need look no farther than Palmer’s Pond in Dorchester on Jan. 1 at 1 p.m.

That is when members of the Dorchester Lions Club will host their 26th annual polar dip.

The event has been a ritual in the small village since 1994, when three local residents jumped into the pond on a dare.

Since then, the local Lions Club has provided dippers with the opportunity to jump from the ice into the balmy waters of Palmers Pond for a quarter of a century.

No matter the weather, no matter the temperature, no matter how many dippers participate, the show goes like clockwork, and Lion member Dan Matthews said spectators are encouraged to show up early if they don’t want to miss out.

“If you wait until 1:30, the whole show might be over,” he explained. “People don’t tarry around very long after they jump and it goes quite quickly.”

Matthews said one jumper in particular, Andy Partridge, who is also a member of the Lions Club, will mark a milestone at the upcoming event by completing his 25th dip.

Participants in the dip are encouraged to show up in costume, Matthews added.

“It adds an entertainment factor. There was one year a lady wore her wedding dress and she even had her maid of honour in her full regalia jump.”

Matthews said when the weather is nice they tend to have more people come out to participate in and watch the dip.

“We’ve had up to 40-45 dippers and spectators of around 200-250.”

When the temperature plummets, however, it’s usually a different story.

“Our coldest temperature was in 1995, I think. It was minus 17 or 18, and I think we had six jumpers.”

So far, things are looking good for this year’s dip, however, Matthews said.

“The temperature this year is supposed to be reasonable, around five degrees for a high. The winds could be a factor but we’ll see how that goes. We have some snow cover. We have a good base of ice, and it looks very promising for another successful year.”

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.

“That is a favourite thing for people to do,” Matthews said, “go from the dip up to the levee.”

Throughout the years, the event has raised funds for a variety of local organizations, including the Bob Edgett boxing club, the Dorchester volunteer fire department, the local minor baseball association, area cadets and many other community causes.

Because it is a fundraiser, participants are asked to collect a minimum of $25 in pledges or they can simply pay $25 registration fee themselves.

Registration is held from 12:30-1 p.m., and the first jumper hits the water at 1 p.m. sharp.

Matthews suggested obtaining a registration form ahead of time by emailing dorchesterweblion@gmail.com to make it easier the day of the dip or visit the Dorchester Lions Club Facebook page for more information.

 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.

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