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Scouts Prepare To Take Plunge Into ’14 

Brr! Brave swimmers will once again be taking the Polar Bear Plunge on New Year’s Day at Steers Beach in support of the Northport Food Pantry.

New Year’s Day in Northport means many things to many people, but to the Boy Scouts, it means it’s time to freeze your tuchus off for a good cause.

For the fifth consecutive year, Northport’s Boy Scouts Troop 410 and the Northport Fire Department Smokeaters will organize an annual noontime New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swim into the frigid waters off of Steers Beach.

It all got started, said Scoutmaster Joe Aiello, as a way to raise money – and awareness – for the hungry in the community.

“We felt it was a good way to raise some awareness of people in need in our community,” he said. “The idea was brought up: Maybe if people were crazy enough to go in the water, people would sponsor us to take the plunge.”

Since then, the number of polar bears – and the sponsors backing them – have both grown steadily. While a stout-hearted band of 15 took the plunge the first year, more than 200 did so last year, raising over $4,500 for the Northport Food Pantry in the process. They’re hoping to top both figures in the 2014 installment.

“It’s been growing each year,” Aiello said.

Most don’t stay in the water too long, especially last year when the weather was decidedly seasonal.

“Last year was a little more of a cold wintry day where people stayed bundled up until the last possible minute,” he said.

Northport firefighters and EMTs will be on hand to ensure all taking the frigid dip do so safely. And to ensure the relative comfort of participants, warming tents and changing stations, powered by Lewisy Heating, are available at the beach, along with hot cocoa and snacks from Copenhagen Bakery.

“It’s very festive. People enjoy it – a lot of families, children, older folks. It’s the gamut of folks,” Aiello said.

The suggested sponsorship per swimmer is $5. For more information on how to sponsor a swimmer or participate in the 2014 Polar Bear Plunge, visit www.t410northportny.org.

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