The 12th annual Turkey Plunge was a huge success, raising $16,513 for the East Hampton Food Bank.
Nearly 100 plungers, many in festive costumes, took to the shores of Lake Pocotopaug at Sears Park on Nov. 12 to brave the chilly waters on a mild, sunny Saturday morning.
For the first 11 years of the event, the Crean Family organized the festivities and ran the annual operation.
In 2010, Tom Crean originally had an idea to raise money for people in need around the world and his wife, Alexis Crean, discovered a need locally, “We live here with this beautiful lake and we thought how we can help. We thought we’d get a couple friends and jump in the lake and make about $1000 and donate it to the East Hampton Food Bank. That first year we raised over $11,000.”
The Crean daughters, Gabriella and Caroline, have participated in the event every year. The sisters said submerging in the cold waters of the lake never gets any easier.
“Mentally we are more prepared, but physically it’s a shock every time,” said Gabriella.
Caroline added, “You sweat it a little bit every time, but the spirit and adrenaline of everyone around you keeps you moving and going.”
The Creans were again participants this year but passed the leadership baton to the East Hampton Rotary, who took the reins and, along with the help of the Interact Club from East Hampton High School, put on one of the most successful events to date.
“The Creans had done it for 11 years and they were ready to step back and we wanted to step up,” said East Hampton’s Alan Hurst of Rotary International, “We hope that we can hand it off to the Interact Club next year and have one of the seniors take it on as their Capstone Project. It’d be nice to see every year that a new student does it and keeps it involved in the community and gets more people involved.”
EHHS Interact Club President Sarah Johnson said the club jumped at the opportunity to get involved, “I’ve been going to the Turkey Plunge since I was little so it’s exciting to be able to help out and raise money for the food bank.”
Over 20 Interact Club members, along with a dozen more Early Act (East Hampton’s Middle School Club) members volunteered at the event and many participated.
During the height of the event the Creans said they had as many as 210 plungers and on average they have around 100 each year, with the exception of last year when they had a hybrid plunge because of the pandemic. Those that didn’t make the plunge at Sears Park could send in virtual videos to be viewed online.
This year 96 people took the plunge, raising $13,211 in donations with Liberty Bank matching 25% of the donations for the gaudy grand total, all benefitting the Belltown community.
Awards and trophies were given out for best in show. The Littlest Gobbler Award went to seven-year-old Olivia Burgan. The Most Spirited Individual went to Ashley Wolff and her son, Hunter. The Best Costume went to Abby Kiernan. The Most Spirited Team was Team Drumstick. The Top Turkey (the highest fundraiser) went to the Papagiannopoulos family.
The Crean family also received The Founder’s Trophy for their 11 years of services and dedication to the event.
The Crean Family are the founders of the Turkey Plunge. (l-r) Alexis, Tom, Gabriella, and Caroline
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin