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Winni-dipping brings much-needed funds to Salvation Army



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Members of the Belmont High School Turkey Plunge team frolic in the waters off Weirs Beach on Saturday to help raise money for the Salvation Army. BHS was the largest team to participate in the annual fundraiser, with 17 students and faculty members taking the plunge. Donna Rhodes. (click for larger version)
November 23, 2010
WEIRS BEACH — Winds were whipping and temperatures weren't exactly on the rise but that didn't stop 144 people from thinking it was a great day for one last dip in Lake Winnipesaukee.

Last Saturday nearly 300 people arrived at Weirs Beach to watch those hardy souls take a plunge for the Salvation Army. The 6th Annual Turkey Plunge, organized by the Salvation Army, Meredith Village Savings Bank, public safety representatives and other volunteers from around the Lakes Region, was once more a success in raising money just in time for the holidays and winter heating season, when many people find themselves in need of some added assistance.

Don Morrissey who heads the committee said he was very pleased with the turnout and Capt. Stephen Warren predicted the event would exceed last year's fund raising, which brought in a total of over $16,000.

Before additional revenue from a post-plunge luncheon held at the Weirs Beach Lobster Pound could even begin to be counted, Warren said the event had already matched last year's total for the just the plunge alone.

"The money we raised today will help to fund the soup kitchen, food pantry, financial assistance for people and of course Carey House, a homeless shelter we operate," he said.

Well aware of their neighbors in need, students from Belmont and Inter-Lakes high schools were happy to literally jump in and help by signing up for the event.

Dianna Harper, PLATO lab instructor for BHS, said, "I had to beg some of them but this was on their bucket list, to do something crazy for a good cause, so here we are."

Harper and 13 students were joined by history teacher and BHS varsity soccer coach Mike Foley and school nurse Lisa Langdon along with Harper's own children, Billie and Timothy from the Inter-Lakes School district.

Inter-Lakes High School sophomore Spencer Perreault was excited for her own plunge and said she was able to convince a number of her friends from the Class of 2014 and even a few faculty members to join her in what has become an annual event for her.

"I've done it every year since it started and this year I got my friends and some teachers to join me. We do it because we can. I just love it," said Perreault.

Gilford was represented by a crew from Patrick's Pub, led by co-owner Alan Beetle. Beetle said business has sent representatives to join in the plunge for three years now and it is a team that just keeps growing.

"We're doing better than ever in getting a team together for this event. Every year it grows a little more. This is just another fun thing to do while helping the community," Beetle said.

Before the teams and individual entries made their way into the icy waters, "Tommy the Turkey" and Pat Kelly from WLNH/Nassau Broadcasting got every warmed up with some music, dance and a few encouraging words. "Tommy," holding a ceremonial plunger in his hand, led the crowd in a brief rendition of the "Chicken Dance" on the sand then participants poised themselves for their turn to race through the crowds and into the lake.

After all the splashing was over was Ross Currier of Conneston Construction Inc. in Laconia took first place for the most donations generated for the second year, with a total of $1,485. Cheryl Kimball was second with $1,086. For team wide fund raising the Laconia Airport Authority tallied $1,705.

Best Team Costume awards went to Quality Insulation, with their Pink Panther mascots draped around their necks. Laconia Airport Authority in their pirate-style attire was second and the Lady Lakers volleyball team, all decked out with matching team shirts and multi-colored socks for their plunge, came in third.

Abigail Lambert, Amber Hugron in her SpongeBob gear, and Maggie McNeil took home the awards for best individual costumes.

Organizers were grateful for a sunny day that brought many people to the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee, all to support a good cause.

"We'd really like to thank all of our sponsors for the day but the list is too long. Thanks to all who donated pumpkins (for the crowd to take home), hot chocolate, chili, chowder, stew, beverages and all the desserts, food preparation and service provided by the students at the Culinary Arts program at Lakes Region Community College," said Morrissey.

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