For some, making a splash is a time-honored New Year tradition
For some, the Oakland Beach Carousel Foundationâs (OBCF) annual Seawall Splash is a New Yearâs Day ritual.
Take the Shuster family of Warwick, for example.
âWe do it every year!â George Shuster, an attorney, exclaimed after leading his wife Stephanie and daughters Greta, 9, and Georgia, 6, into Greenwich Bay at noon on Monday. âWe do it every year; we canât stop now.â
Shuster said this was his fifth dip into the frigid water that he thought was probably about 41 degrees.
âItâs not that the waterâs that cold, itâs the temperature and [stiff] breeze that really hits you,â he added.
For Jilly Caruso, 10, who was dressed in an LA Lakers shirt and pajama bottoms, it was her first-ever New Yearâs Day test.
While Caruso wanted to do what her dad Rick Caruso and hundreds of other people have done since 2009 when the brief swim began, Monday took on additional meaning.
âI wanted to help a little infant girl,â Jilly Caruso said while covering up with a warm, woolen blanket. âI wanted to be in the first Punk Rock Plunge.â
After she participated in the Seawall Splash and warmed up as much as possible, Jilly Caruso joined more than 150 people of all ages and went back into the freezing water during the first annual Punk Rock Plunge at 1:30 p.m.
Although the exact dollar figure wasnât available, Anthony Soly, who chaired the first ever Punk Rock Plunge, said all proceeds would benefit the Angelina Rose Cox Fund that was recently created to help the family during their infant daughterâs battle with Type I SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy).
âWe had people come from all over the place ... New Hampshire, New York,â Soly said. âIt was incredible. We probably raised over $8,000 for Angelinaâs family. They donât have medical insurance that covers this type of condition.â
As for the Seawall Splash, for people like Jerry McLaughlin, a.k.a. Poseidon the Greek God of the sea, the New Yearâs Day swim is about maintaining a tradition for family and friends with the end result being an operating carousel.
For others, itâs the curiosity of a dive into the deep on New Yearâs Day, while even for other folks itâs a test of oneâs mettle against natureâs elements like below freezing air temperatures and simply running into the freezing waters of Greenwich Bay.
âThis is a day more conducive for ice fishing,â mused Ed Ladouceur, a Warwick City Councilman-elect who will represent Ward 5. âThere are some mighty courageous people here today.â
For people like Doreen Kosciusko and Chuck Hewitt, the Seawall Splash is a way to continue their dream of some day having a real, honest-to-goodness carousel built at Oakland Beach.
Kosciusko, who is chairperson of the Oakland Beach Foundation that has a workshop on West Shore Road and is bent on realizing the non-profit organizationâs dream, was happy with Mondayâs turnout and net result.
âWe collected $1,200 today,â Kosciusko said, noting that 39 people registered but that there were probably 75 or so people who went into the water. âThat came from people actually plunging into the water and raffle sales. It all goes to our foundation.â
For Hewitt, the OBCFâs artistic director and head carver, results from the Seawall Splash mean that the Foundation can move closer to its goal of completing all the horses for the proposed carousel.
âWe only need seven more horses,â said Hewitt while drying off from his trek into the freezing water. âEvery little bit helps. And once weâve got all the horses, we can begin working on the mechanism [for the carousel].â
This yearâs Seawall Splash took on a new look, as all events were held outside because of the unique fundraiser being hosted by Marleyâs on the Beach for the Angelina Rose Cox Fund.
âWe had music and a hot chocolate vendor,â Kosciusko said. âOur special thanks to Amy âElvisâ Beth and disc jockey Trey. He really impressed everyone with the music he played; especially those old Beach Boys tunes that kind of helped take away some of the dayâs cold!â