New Year’s Plungers chill out in Onset Bay

Jan 2, 2023

On the morning of Monday, Jan. 2, the water in Onset Bay was 38 degrees. 

“It’s a little cold,” 5-year-old Fiona McPherson told her mother Mary. 

Monday was Mary’s first time participating in the annual New Year’s Plunge. She joined 50 brave souls who celebrated the start of 2023 by running into the frigid bay and splashing around. 

“I like doing things in a group like this,” said Mary, who moved to Onset in August 2022 and was excited to try something new in town. “It’s fun to be in on it together, and it’s a good story to tell.” 

“That woke you up!” Said David Littlefield, sopping wet as he exited the water.

This is Littlefield’s third year taking the Plunge. He craves the thrill of diving in the water, which he said felt warmer than previous years.

“I love it,” he said. “When you dive under, it’s like being born again. It’s really awesome. It wakes you up in the center of your soul.”

Monday was also the first Plunge for Cindy Sabine, who wore a pink wig, coconut bra, “Happy New Year” glasses and glittery eyeshadow for the occasion. 

Sabine said the water felt “like knives,” but she’s looking forward to doing it again next year. 

“It’s really cold, but going out makes you feel pretty good,” said Jonathan Tonello, whose friend Mathew Rose convinced him to take the Plunge for a second year.

Rose said that entering the cold water is “not fun,” but coming out feels refreshing. 

Afterwards, Plungers warmed up with sandwiches, coffee and other treats in the Onset Bay Center.

“At first, it’s cold and shocks your body,” said 11-year-old Caidan Walsh, his face stained with chocolate pudding. “But then once you get out, you’re wide awake.”

The New Year’s Plunge is an Onset tradition. It was previously organized by the Box 5 Association, but is now being run by the Buzzards Bay Coalition.

Vice President of Outdoor Activities Stuart Downie said that the Coalition plans to host the Plunge every year from now on.

Downie, who stayed in the water longer than just about anyone, hopes the Plunge will encourage people to take better care of Buzzards Bay.