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Long Island polar plungers chill while bringing in new year

Boy Scout Troop 410 of Northport hosted the eighth annual New Year's Day Polar Bear Swim at Steers Beach in Northport on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Ecumenical Lay Council Food Pantry in Northport. (Credit: Newsday / Chris Ware)

More than 100 people brought in the new year Sunday morning by rushing into the frigid waters of Steers Beach in Northport.

The eighth annual Boy Scout Troop 410 Polar Bear Swim served as both a fundraiser and a way for many to start 2017 with a bang.

“It’s a tradition,” said Sarah Jessica Forte of her fourth time plunging in the “numbing water” at Steers Beach on New Year’s Day. “It’s a nice refreshing way to start the year.”

Forte, 19, of Cold Spring Harbor, said her New Year’s resolution is to work on herself.

Charity plunges also were held Sunday in Wainscott, East Hampton and Montauk.

But in Northport, Tim Sangirardi, scoutmaster of the troop, said all proceeds from the short swim will go to the Northport Food Pantry.

Last year, more than $4,000 was raised at the event, a record for the Northport-based troop, which sponsored it.

Donation totals from Sunday weren’t immediately available.

“The plunge is a way to have a nice, fresh start,” Sangirardi said. “We do this to raise money.”

At noon, the plungers undressed into their bathing suits, bikinis and trunks and ran toward the water. But as soon as they entered, they exited.

“It’s the coldest you’ll ever be in your life,” said Jarett Weintraub, 48, of Commack, who dived into the water.

If you plunge into the freezing water at the beginning of the year, the rest of the year will be better, he added.

Lucy Rose, 48, of Lake Grove, was eager to jump in to support her nephew, a troop member. “I do it every year. It’s a way to start the new year,” she said.

As for the coming year, she said she had no resolutions but wanted to live life each day.

A baby-faced man holding on to the Christmas spirit was one of the plungers.

Nicholas DeSimone, 22, of Northport, dressed in all red attire and, wearing a fake white beard, raced into the water.

He said doing so was a way for him to support those without food.

DeSimone added that his time in the water was harsher than everyone else’s because his suit absorbed the water.

The Northport Fire Department was on hand in case of an emergency.

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