HANSON — The January thaw was a blessing from Mother Nature as dozens of local residents, school officials and town employees made the plunge into the icy water at Cranberry Cove Sunday, Jan. 27 as part of the Hanon PTO Freezin’ for A Reason inaugural polar plunge fund raiser.
Event Coordinator Melissa Valachovic of the Hanson PTO was enthused by the level of support that the community brought to the event.
Calling the event outcome “amazing,” she reported the total raised by the plungers reached nearly $12,000.
Some of the top pledgers each exceeded $1,000 to $1,500.
With combined efforts of the PTO and a subcommittee assisting with the six month planning- prior to the event — Valachovic praised the abundant dedication and enthusiasm by many hands to bring the fund raiser to fruition.
Naming and thanking the town officials and first responders who contributed with safety of the 53 registered plungers, Valachovic acknowledged the entire board of selectman that made the plunge. Chairman Kenny Mitchell, who could not attend Sunday, took his frosty dive on Thursday in the presence of several witnesses.
Collectively giving to the school was the most important factor for most who powered through the chilly water although several carried individual reasons in participating.
Pam Fager and her lifelong friend Sondra Allen, both of Hanson, checked doing a polar plunge off their bucket lists.
Sharing childhood memories of summers gone by at Cranberry Cove the pair decided to take the icy dip contributing to the school that their children have attended.
“It was awesome and I cannot wait to do it next year,” said Fager.
The water temperature was a concern for many as they saw the chunks of ice floating at the surface after Hanson firefighters and dive team members prepared the plunge area by sawing into the waterway.
“It actually felt similar to the air temperature,” said Fager after she realized she accomplished the feat. Several plungers, in fact, said the water was not as cold as they had feared.
Enjoying the camaraderie of her small hometown, Allen said she would like to see more of those types of events.
“They really help bring the community together,” said Allen. Some of her fondest childhood memories were at the boat races on Memorial Day and the huge bonfire held at the town hall on July 4.
Shaun Doyle, a police officer on the South Shore and a Hanson school parent, found a little extra motivation in the morning as he dressed for the polar plunge. He chose to honor his fellow brother in blue SGT. Michael Chesna, a fallen Weymouth police officer killed in the line of duty.
“It’s nice at the end of the day — to give back — it’s all about the kids,” said Doyle.
Army Sgt. Aaron Meade a Hanson resident who graduated from W-H in 2002 said he had the memory of fellow Army soldier Black Hawk Pilot Scott Landis on his mind as he took a back flip into the chilly pond.
“I wanted to give back to the community,” said Meade who made the trip from Hanscom Airbase where he is stationed.
Meade was overjoyed to have been cleared two days prior from a medical injury in which he was wearing a walking boot.
“I may feel this later,” he said as he laughed off the cold.
Volunteers served hot cocoa and coffee to ice-cold bodies that were high on adrenaline. All participants were thanked deeply by organizers, wrapped in warming foils and given a cranberry colored commemorative towel as they exited the water.
Notably, some plungers such as Patrick Powers of the town Finance Committee and WHRHS Principal Dr. Christopher Jones, donned mismatched Hawaiian garb. Others looked pretty with headbands, Hawaiian skirts, bikini bathing suits and matching sunglasses, amusing hats and other costumes, which matched what appeared to be faces of exhilaration and relief.
Selectman Matt Dyer raised $260 of his $900 by taking up his father’s challenge to wear a pink tutu, crown, bow tie and knee socks into the water.
The typically warm summer sand, which was hardened with cold, was alive with the sounds of musical genres — themed with winter weather lyrics, pumped up pledgers, family members and onlookers who packed the earth of the Cranberry Cove.
To see how many people participated and supported the plunge Valachovic commended onlookers many of whom contributed money on site.
“We are unbelievably grateful at the amount of support we couldn’t have done this without them,” she said.