Brunelle’s readies for popular plunge

by Town Reminder

Leapin’ leprechauns!
Brunelle’s readies for popular plunge
By Kristin Will
Staff Writer, kwill@turley.com

SOUTH HADLEY – Locals will again leap into the Connecticut River on Sunday, March 11 at Brunelle’s Marina for the third-annual Leprechaun Plunge.
Charities this year include the Dana Farber Jimmy Fund, the Springfield Shriners Hospital, the Donnie Baker Scholarship Fund, the Joe Kareta Scholarship Fund, South Hadley youth activities and the South Hadley Neighbors Helping Neighbors Food Pantry.
Co-organizer of the event, Luke Brunelle, said the marina hopes to raise $50,000 for the charities this year. In its first year running, the plunge awarded $18,000 to six charities. Last year, it nearly doubled that number. “It’s getting bigger and bigger,” he said.
It’s true – the initial event drew a crowd of 70 plungers and an equal amount of spectators. Word spread about the fun and festive event, and 145 brave individuals plunged last year. The crowd filled the marina’s parking lot and spectators willingly lined the edges of the plunging route, soggy shoes and all, to cheer everyone on. Brunelle anticipates more than 200 people to take the plunge next month.
Having gained such a strong following over the past two years, Brunelle and the Leprechaun Plunge committee are implementing improvements. For starters, two busses will shuttle spectators and plungers alike to off-site parking. In the past, cars lined Alvord Street for miles on the day of the plunge. This year, Ledges Golf Course and the Valley Christian School donated use of their parking lots. The shuttles will run throughout the event.
The plunging site will be moved to the marina’s main ramp, for ample viewing opportunities. Additionally, bleachers will be set up so all spectators will have great views.
“It’s a fun event,” said Brunelle. “It goes to good charities.”
The six charities benefiting from the plunge will have booths on site and will be able to accept direct donations. The Shriners Clowns are expected to make an appearance, as well.
For a $30 per person registration fee, plungers will be able to dive into the frigid water, will receive a t-shirt and will be given a ticket to the corned beef and cabbage dinner held inside the showroom following the plunge. For those who aren’t ready to take the plunge but still want to join in on the festivities, a $15 ticket will give access to the corned beef and cabbage dinner. To simply watch the event is free, of course. Live footage of the plungers will air on televisions in the show room and the plunge committee is working with the South Hadley Cable Studio to film and later air the event on the community access station.
One hundred percent of the proceeds raised by plungers goes directly to the six charities of the plungers’ choosing. The event runs solely on sponsorships and the entry fee, which is put toward the evening dinner.
And if that wasn’t enough, plungers have the opportunity to win one of five prizes.
The Grand Shamrock corporate prize is awarded to the top three fundraising business groups. Winners received a ride on the Lady Bea for 25 guests. Other corporate teams receive 10 Lady Bea passes each. To win, at least $1,000 must be raised.
The Pot of Gold prize of $500 is awarded to the top fundraising individual or group (not a business). It is sponsored by All Star Dairy.
The Lucky Irishman prize of $300 is awarded to the second-highest fundraising individual or group, sponsored by R&M Landscaping.
The Over the Rainbow prize of $100 is awarded to the third-highest fundraising individual or group, sponsored by 21st Century Pools & Spa.
Finally, the Hottie Leprechaun award is given to the most attractive male or female plunger. Center Day Spa will award him or her with a spa day.
New this year is the Pub Cup Challenge, in which local bars and pubs assemble teams of plungers to raise funds for a charity. One thousand dollars must be raised in order for a team to be eligible. All qualified teams will win 10 regular passes on the Lady Bea. The top fundraiser wins a private cruise on the lady Bea for 25 guests and the Pub Cup Challenge Cup to keep in their establishment for a whole year.
To register or learn how to volunteer, visit HYPERLINK “http://www.brunelles.com” http://www.brunelles.com. On the day of the plunge, Sunday, March 11, visit the marina’s show room for check-in at 11:30 a.m. There, participants will sign a waiver, turn in their donations, receive their t-shirt and their meal ticket. Participants will then be assigned to their plunge group. The Leprechaun officially kicks off at 1 p.m.
“I want everybody to pick a charity and come on down and plunge,” said Brunelle. “It’s a great event for the town of South Hadley, so come on down and have some fun!”

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