Locals to leap in Leprechaun Plunge

by Town Reminder

Plunge A

Locals to leap in Leprechaun Plunge
By Kristin Will

SOUTH HADLEY – This winter’s icy temperatures surely won’t stop locals from plunging into the Connecticut River’s freezing waters for the annual Leprechaun Plunge.
And if the river remains frozen over, Plunge officials at Brunelle’s Marina plan to chop a hole for the fearless jumpers.
Set for Sunday morning on March 15, the Plunge will raise funds for six local charities. They are: Shriner’s Hospital, Dana Farber Jimmy Fund, USO Pioneer Valley, Neighbors Helping Neighbors Food Pantry, Joe Kareta Scholarship Fund and South Hadley Youth Groups.
Plungers pick a specific charity and set out to raise funds. One hundred percent of the proceeds raised by plungers go directly to the six charities of the plungers’ choosing.
In 2014, the event raised $120,000.
“Hopefully people out there are raising money for one of the six charities,” said event co-organizer Luke Brunelle.
He said prep work would begin this week to remove snow from the marina parking lot.
“This year, we’re hoping for better weather,” he said.
Three hundred plungers registered for the 2014 event, which drew participants from the region and nearby states.
Approximately 10 percent of participants sign up ahead of time. The day of the event is when Brunelle sees the majority of sign-ups.
He hopes to make 2015 the best Plunge yet.
For a $30 per-person registration fee, plungers will be able to dive into the frigid water, receive a t-shirt and a ticket to a corned beef and cabbage luncheon.
“Chicken Plungers” can register and raise funds the same way, but don’t have to enter the water.
Registrations are accepted right up to the day of the event.
An “After Plunge Party” is held every year following the wet event with music and a festive corned beef and cabbage luncheon. Tickets are $15.
For those who aren’t ready to take the plunge, simply watching the event is free.
Plungers may participate singularly or they can create teams. Participants must each raise a minimum of $100. Those under 18 years old must raise at least $50.
The major prize of day is the Pub Cup, a challenge created to encourage local bars and pubs to participate.
To be eligible for the challenge, these teams must raise at least $1,000. The team that raises the most money will have their picture taken with the Pub Cup and receive a $500 cash prize and plaque.
Creative costumes will also be awarded. Categories include most creative, funniest, best kid’s and best team costumes. Costumes must be appropriate for all ages, as the event is family-friendly.
A team challenge, separate from the Pub Cup Challenge, awards the top three teams who raise the most money. Top-earning individuals are awarded as well.
The Pot of Gold prize of $500 is awarded to the individual who raises the most money. The Lucky Irishman prize of $300 is awarded to the individual who raises the second-most amount of money. And finally, the Over the Rainbow prize of $100 is awarded to the individual who raises the third-most amount of money.
“We’re excited to have it,” said Brunelle of the Plunge.
To learn more about the Leprechaun Plunge or to register for the event, visit http://www.leprechaunplunge.com. Brunelle’s Marina is located at 246 Ferry Street in South Hadley.