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Shelter Island residents take a cold Turkey Plunge for library

Daria Gradusova and Eli Adler make the Turkey

Daria Gradusova and Eli Adler make the Turkey Plunge at Crescent Beach in costume. This is the third year the two have participated in the event, which benefits the Shelter Island Public Library. (Nov. 30, 2013) Credit: Amy Onorato

“Wow, my feet are cold!” said Greg Senken, of Shelter Island, as he emerged from the water off Crescent Beach, clad in only an American flag swimsuit.

With post-Thanksgiving temperatures barely over freezing, going for a swim in the Long Island Sound is rarely on the top of anyone’s “to do” list.

But for the people taking part in the fourth annual Shelter Island Turkey Plunge, taking a dip in the icy water to raise money for the Shelter Island Public Library was something they had been looking forward to.

And they did it in style.

Participants were encouraged to dress up in costume for prizes and gift cards donated by local merchants. In the crowd, there were several turkeys, a cowboy, a fairy and even a tiny Santa Claus.

Ann Biddlecon, of Shelter Island, won best female costume for her cardboard cutout of a “Gravy Boat.”

“It’s good to go into the icy waters with a pun,” Biddlecon said.

Gallo Patel, 10, who won best youth costume for his black plastic umbrella “Polluted Jellyfish,” made his costume to “raise awareness about the environment.”

The idea for the event was the brainchild of Andrew Ward, a member of the Friends of Shelter Island Public Library, who helps sponsor the event. The inaugural plunge was held to help raise money for library renovations.

“It was just a quirky idea that worked,” Shelter Island Public Library director Denise DiPaolo said. “We’ve been doing it ever since.”

Last year, 125 people took part in the plunge, raising $15,000 for the library, said Ward. He added that participation and fundraising totals for this year's plunge are still being tallied. 

“It just gets bigger and bigger every year,” Ward said.

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