NEWPORT — Bob Henrique of Dighton recently turned 55, and on New Year’s Day, standing on the shore of Easton’s Beach, he said 2020 is his “year of making things happen.”
“I’m going to do stuff like this,” Henrique said, about 20 minutes prior to plunging in the icy waters of the Atlantic for the Polar Bear Plunge, an annual charity event in which people don their swim trunks in the dead of winter and take a dip in the ocean. All proceeds from this year’s event benefit “A Wish Come True,” an organization that grants wishes to children with serious illnesses in Rhode Island, and a young boy named Henry, who is fighting cancer.
Eric Betz of Newport and his wife Siobhan huddled close beneath a blanket as they waited to take the plunge; Siobhan’s shock of blue hair was visible and whipped in the wind beneath her numerous layers.
“Cleansing off a rough decade,” Siobhan said of her reason for participating. She’d brave the waters on Wednesday with her husband, her father and nine-year-old daughter.
Though some stripped down to their bathing suits well before the 10-second countdown, Richard Callas of Middletown said he’d keep his jacket on right up until the signal. Wednesday marked his first time as a participant in the Polar Bear Plunge. Callas would catch wind of the event in years past and think “I should have done that,” he said of the charitable plunge.