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January 2, 2014

Chilling in the New Year

Brave souls kick off 2014 with an icy ocean dip for charity

SALEM — A bundled up Mayor Kim Driscoll asked the question that was on the minds of dozens of folks as they stood shivering in 25-degree temperatures on New Year’s Day, wearing nothing but bathing suits and flip-flops or wrapped in towels and robes at the Winter Island boat ramp.

“What’s wrong with you crazy people?” Driscoll joked, drawing hoots, cowbells and “woos” from the crowd. “All right, happy 2014,” said Driscoll. “If you are zany enough to go in, please line up at the left side of the ramp. If you are planning to disrobe, now is the appropriate time.”

The group was waiting for the start of the fifth annual Freeze Your Tush Off ocean dip to benefit the Salem Food Pantry.

Like the countdown clock to 2014, Driscoll and the crowd counted down the moment for the start of the plunge. At the sound of cowbells, the crowd ran down the boat ramp, splashed about, screamed, then headed back up the boat ramp.

This was the second year the event was held at the boat ramp; it was formerly held at Juniper Cove at Salem Willows.

Three Salem firefighters stood by along with two ambulances, but they were there only as a precaution.

Those taking the shivery dip included state Rep. John Keenan, D-Salem.

“It’s exhilarating, absolutely exhilarating. I feel 10 years younger,” Keenan said after his brief swim. How did the plunge feel? “Shocking, absolutely shocking,” he said.

Other notables taking the plunge included Salem police Chief Paul Tucker, who posted a photo on Twitter of himself with his son, Dan, and daughter, Meghan, after the icy dip. Chief Tucker was one of many who took the plunge after running the Wicked Running Club’s Frosty Four 4-mile road race. A second plunge was held for runners who came over after the race.

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