By Francis Scarcella
The Daily Item
NORTHUMBERLAND — No sooner had the hearty souls scampered into the 32-degree Susquehanna River on Saturday than they scurried out, facing an 8 mph breeze that lowered the air temperature from 24 to a real-feel of 16.
For the 20 participants in the first Salvation Army Penguin Plunge, it was time to soak in the fun and raise money for charity.
“I’m scared to do this,” Sunbury Salvation Army Maj. Sharon Cupp said. “But I am going to do it.”
And she did.
The event, held at the East Chillisquaque Boat Launch in West Chillisquaque Township along Route 405, raised $700 for citadels in Sunbury and Milton, organizer Joel Harris said.
“We were thinking of ways to raise money,” Harris said. “We always watched the Lewisburg (Polar Bear) plunge and figured we could do something like this. Everyone was great and we had a lot of people help us out.”
Participants warmed themselves inside a heated tent before taking the dive. Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks donated coffee to the Salvation Army for participants, Harris said.
“We drove an hour to do this,” said Ruby Sanguedolce, 31, of Montgomery, Lycoming County. “We heard about it and wanted to come help out.”
Sanguedolce, dressed in a bathing suit with a tutu, was one of the first participants to hit the water. As she dunked her head, cheers erupted from the crowd watching on the river bank.
“I’m happy to see people having a good time,” Harris said. “We will definitely be planning this again and making it an annual event.”
Emergency medical technicians from William Cameron, Lewisburg, and Union County Emergency Services were on hand in the event of an injury.
Divers were in and out of the water, breaking ice off the top of the frozen Susquehanna.
“This was fun and we will do it again,” Sanguedolce said. “It is all for a good cause.”