“Penguin Plunge” sends city into frigid frenzy

WESTFIELD – Whip city residents and other weekend warriors have been mentally preparing for months. Now the time has come.
The ninth annual Penguin Plunge will be taking place at Hampton Ponds State Park today in an effort to raise money to benefit the Amelia Park Children’s Museum. But it isn’t just a bunch of kooky daredevils seeking an aquatic adventure of the subzero variety. Participants from all walks of life are looking forward to the plunge with eager anticipation.
Take Todd Cieplinski, the owner of MoFroYo, a recently-opened frozen yogurt shop that is turning heads and exciting tastebuds all over town. “We are focused on supporting the community and a great cause like the Amelia Park Children’s Museum,” said Cieplinski.
In addition to co-sponsoring the event and hosting a frozen yogurt party for the “plunger” team that raises the most money, the Springfield native is making his first plunge.
“I’m excited to check it off the bucket list,” he said with a chuckle.
Karen Rubin, executive director of the Amelia Park Children’s Museum, is optimistic about this year’s event, which she has lofty expectations for.
“Our fund raising goal is $40,000,” she said in a phone interview on Friday. “Thus far, we’ve raised just under $7,000, roughly seventeen percent of our goal.”
The biggest fundraiser of the year for the Children’s Museum, participants must register and either secure a sponsorship or pay a fee of $50 to take the coldest dive of their lives. Rubin will also be the first director of the event to be making the plunge herself.
And while first timers like Rubin and Cieplinski are in a cold sweat over their virgin plunge, Westfield Representative Don Humason is no stranger to the event, as he has participated in all eight previous incarnations of the ‘Penguin Plunge’, holding the unofficial title of chief among the city’s aquatic arctic birds. And he has no intention of slowing down anytime soon.
“Maybe I’ll take a year off sometime,” Humason laughs, before turning serious, “I’m proud to participate in this event every year. The volunteers (Karen) gets in addition to the three or four paid employees on staff for the event – they do a great job.”
Last year, the event drew a total of 100 participants, a number that could possibly be dwarfed this year.
“I have no clue how many people are registered this year,” Humason said. The representative did say that he was aware that the Museum had been selling raffle tickets up until Thursday for the opportunity to watch the plunge from a hot tub near the water, a prize that has been generating lots of ticket sales for the fundraiser.
Prizes will be awarded to participants who come decked out in the most extravagant costume (or lack thereof), and to the participant who raises the most money individually, earning the title of “Penguin Excelsior”.
However, regardless of who earns those titles, one thing is for certain: the ninth annual Penguin Plunge will be raising a lot of goosebumps and money today for a great cause.

To Top