Fenwick Islanders ready to freeze

Feel like freezing, Fenwick? If so, the fifth annual Fenwick Freeze, an annual New Year’s Day jump (or walk, or dip, or swim) in the ocean is set for 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 1, 2009, at the beach off of Bayard Street.

Coastal Point • File Photo: Some Fenwick faithful hit the icy waters last Jan. 1.Coastal Point • File Photo
Some Fenwick faithful hit the icy waters last Jan. 1.

The Freeze, started by resident Jo Ellen Kane about five years ago as something fun for the town to do, quickly turned into a fundraising event. And, after great response from the residents, the Freeze has grown each year. As they have for the past few years, proceeds from the 2009 event will go to support the Fenwick Island National Lifeguard Competition Fund.

“It began as a community-type thing to do,” said Becka Williams, chairperson of the Fenwick Island Beach Committee. “The lifeguards became the focal point because they have to pay their own way to the national competition, so the Freeze and the town bonfire help to offset some of those costs.”

This year, the team traveled across the country to Manhattan Beach, Calif., where they took top honors in the soft-sand relay and the beach flag event. Sussex County ranked third overall, behind teams from Los Angeles and Monmouth County, N.J.

Fenwick Island Beach Patrol Captain Tim Ferry will be on hand to emcee the Jan. 1 event. Because a lifeguard’s job is never done, he, along with the paramedics, will also act as a “safety net” for swimmers that day.

“[The Fenwick Freeze] is something that a lot of people find as a neat way to ring in the new year,” said Ferry. “It has grown every year and become a tradition for visitors as well as locals.”

Williams speculated that a bright aspect of the lagging economy might be more people staying close to home who will be able to join in the festivities. They have already received about 25 registrants and, as always, expect most registrants to sign up on the day of the event.

“Last year, we had about 150, give or take,” she said. “It always depends on the weather. A gorgeous sunny day may get more people out, but we get just as many when it’s raining. And there’s definitely more spectators each year.”

People can find the registration form online at www.fenwickisland.org and mail it in with payment of the registration fee to The Fenwick Freeze c/o Becka Williams 927 Montgomery Street Laurel, MD 20702. They can also register at town hall on Monday, Dec. 30, and Tuesday, Dec. 31, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., or they can bring the registration form the day of the event to Bayard Street between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m.

Early registration for one person costs $20; two to four people cost $16 each and five to eight people cost $12 each. On New Year’s Day, those prices will be $25, $20 and $15, respectively.

The event is held regardless of rain, shine, snow or sleet. With registration, participants will receive a T-shirt and an eco-friendly tote bag.