Popular New Year's event set to return to Fenwick Island

After a roaring success with the inaugural edition of the Fenwick Freeze New Year’s ocean plunge, members of the town’s Beach Committee are already planning the second annual event, with a theme of “Dive Into 2006.”

Set, naturally, on Jan. 1, 2006, the swim will feature a few changes from 2005.

First, it will move down the beach a bit, to the shoreline between Bayard and Cannon streets, in order to provide access through the handicapped-accessible dune crossing there. In the event of chilly weather (the inaugural Freeze featured downright unseasonably balmy temperatures), swimmers will be glad of the warmth from a bonfire at Cannon Street.

With a somewhat unorganized start in 2005, organizers have decided to feature an official tape start in 2006, with Police Chief Colette Sutherland to cut the ribbon and set the swimmers free to plunge into the winter ocean.

The whole thing is set to start at 10:30 a.m. on that New Year’s Sunday, and registration is already open.

Those registering before Dec. 1 will pay only $10, while it’s $15 for those registering after Dec. 1. Registration on the day of the event will cost $20.

All registered participants will receive a long-sleeved T-shirt this year, and organizers said they are aiming for a better quality of shirt than last year. It will be a silk-screened design in 2006, instead of the iron-on design used in 2005 that proved so tricky to launder, according to Fenwick Island Town Council Member Chris Clark, who has helped organize both events.

The shirt will likely be navy blue, with a white logo to commemorate the 2006 Freeze, and they’ve also negotiated a lesser cost for the shirts — meaning more of participants’ registration fees will go to the Fenwick Island Lighthouse, the beneficiary of the event.

(Clark noted that some 30 T-shirts from 2005 had been paid for but never picked up. He said any remaining much past Nov. 4 would likely end up in the town’s shipment of donated goods for Gulf Coast hurricane relief.)

Organizers are also considering expanding the Fenwick Freeze line of gear to include towels (good for drying off and warming up in that winter weather), hats and scarves.

In addition to registering interested participants, organizers are also aiming to increase the turnout that vastly exceeded their expectations in the event’s first year. They’re planning to advertise the event through fliers in local businesses, as well as through word of mouth.

The Fenwick Island Town Council unanimously approved the event for 2006 at its Oct. 28 council meeting. A permit for the bonfire has already been issued, and organizers are working with local emergency medical technicians to ensure medical care is available. Registration forms are available at the town hall.