Posts Tagged ‘penguin swim’

Record Year For Penguin Swim

January 7, 2011

After all of the donations are in and tallied, organizers anticipate the 2011 New Year’s Day Penguin Swim in Ocean City, Md, a fundraiser for Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin, will break records. More than $71,000 (net proceeds) in contributions was collected in 2010, setting a new record for the Berlin hospital’s annual fundraiser. Approximately 500 people donned everything from bathing suits to superhero costumes as they plunged into the 45-degree ocean at 91st Street last year. “It was the best year ever for funds raised by the Penguin Swim. Hopefully, 2011 will exceed that,” said Amy Unger, AGH director of development, prior to the 2011 swim. Though organizers on Monday did not yet have a firm number of how many people participated in the 17th annual Penguin Swim, they estimate approximately 900 to 1,000 brave souls jumped in the 42- degree ocean on Jan. 1. “We will continue to receive pledge payments and donations throughout the month to benefit [the] annual Penguin Swim,” Unger said. “Due to the large turnout of penguins, supporters and the community at large, we are very pleased to report that we anticipate exceeding our goal of $80,000.” Several factors contributed to the overwhelming number of participants this year, Unger said. The weather, at nearly 50 degrees and sunny, was much warmer this year than during past events, and the swim took place on a Saturday, which helped draw a record amount of spectators and “penguins.” Also, media outlets and the town of Ocean City promoted the swim. Swim Chairwoman Patricia Ilczuk- Lavanceau said one participant she talked to found out about the event via an Ocean City phone application. Many people also registered at the last minute because of the warm temperature and there were a good amount of first-timers this year, she said. Ilczuk-Lavanceau described the Penguin Swim as “phenomenal.” “People’s moods were uplifted. Everyone was pumped up and excited,” she said. “It was truly a real high. I was blown away by the turnout and the number of people that want to support our hospital. Our goal was $80,000 and I’m pretty confident we’re going to break that goal.”

After the swim, penguins gathered at the Princess Royale’s Atrium to warm up in the pool and hot tubs. Awards were presented to the youngest and oldest swimmers, as well as to the top team and individual money-raisers. Participants dressed in the best costumes also received awards. The youngest penguin was 5-monthold Jay Kettler of Leesburg, Va. The oldest was 82-year-old Pasquale Lemme of Newark, Md. Kevin Massey of Delmar, Del. raised $1,000 and earned a third-place honor for individual donors. Craig Kettler of Leesburg, Va. collected $4,275, and the top individual fundraiser was, for the seventh consecutive year, Woody “Butch” German of Baltimore, who raised $4,445. In the team category, third place went to the AGH Flapping Flamingos for donating approximately $6,000. In second place was the Ocean Pines Penguin Swim Team, who collected close to $6,200. The Bull on the Beach team, which included more than 200 swimmers, was the top team fundraiser again this year, donating about $20,000. During the 17-year history of the event, the Bull on the Beach team has raised approximately $300,000 for AGH. Bull on the Beach owner, Phil Houck, typically leads his team from the 94th Street restaurant to the starting line on the day of the swim. As a surprise, Ilczuk- Lavanceau said Houck was honored as “King of the Penguin Swim,” and received a crown, cape and scepter, during the awards ceremony. The Penguin Swim is one of the hospital’s main fundraisers. Before the 2011 event, more than $500,000 (net proceeds) had been donated to AGH.

Penguin Swim In Venice Hits 50 Years

January 7, 2010

Fifty years is a long time for anything, but in southern California last week the Venice Penguin Swim celebrated its 50th year when dozens of swimmers plunged into the brisk and cold Pacific Ocean on New Years Day at Venice Beach Breakwater.

After five decades of swimming on New Year’s Day, the event has become a local tradition within the Venice community.

“Some people can simply not start the New Year without it,” said Venice Penguin Swim Event Coordinator Mary McGuirk.

The penguin swimmers ranged from masters to amateur waders. The first man and woman to complete a 300-yard swim around a buoy and back were crowned penguin prince and princess. This year the Venice Penguin Swim Prince Toby Contarsy, completed the 300-yard swim in one minute and 28 seconds while Princess Sue Stohrer in two minutes and 31 seconds.

Chosen for their enthusiasm and loyalty to the Swim Penguin Annual Event, 92-year-old Julian Myers acted as the Honorary King while Spring Dehaviland was nominated the queen. McGuirk described Myers as a healthy and remarkable Venice community local.

The Coast Guard Boats and helicopters joined in the celebration this year with banners and balloons. Tough the event tends to be more popular with the local residents it is a favorite among international tourists as well. “We have people from Australia and other parts of the world. Some people don’t even know what’s happening until they see a crowd at the beach and wonder why are they running towards the cold water. Then at the spur of the moment, they go in too,” said McGuire.

The number of participants for this year’s event has almost doubled with 121 swimmers this year compared to 80 swimmers in the year of 2009. Many swimmers joined last minute without any prior knowledge of the event. “I have no idea. They kept coming in after registration was over. They really had fun,” recalls McGuire.

Despite the cold water, the warm weather helped bring the biggest collection of dedicated penguins once again, reaching its goal of great fun. The unique celebration of the New Year promised and rewarded many of this year’s swimmers with a hot cup of coffee, doughnuts and the memory of great camaraderie.

People and Penguins Hit The Surf In Venice, Ca on New Years Day!

Penguins Splash In The New Year

December 27, 2009

Time was when the only holiday celebrating at Ocean City, Md., was done by the seagulls feasting on a washed-up fish in the surf.
Today, human tourists and locals who partied all summer long make their way to the beach for some holiday cheer of their own.
These visitors are discovering the joy of fireworks over the waves followed by watching the first sunrise of the year, in all its glory and colorful reflection on the cold waves.
As part of Ocean City’s “Winterfest of Lights,” the Avenue of Trees along Baltimore Avenue between 15th and 32nd streets is aglow as part of more than 1 million holiday lights and animated displays sparkling throughout town.
And like the holiday glow brightening every street corner, New Year’s Eve is a townwide celebration at any of the hundreds of hotels and restaurants that have marked memorable times for summer visitors.
Many downtown hotels such as Howard Johnson’s Beachfront Hotel at 12th Street offer New Year’s Eve packages and Winterfest packages.
At the iconic Carousel Resort Hotel, famous for its indoor ice rink in the lobby, an affordable New Year’s Eve package features a retro 1970’s party with DJ, open bar, hors d’oeuvres and a champagne toast at midnight.
“There will also be a balloon drop with party favors and a two-night stay included in the package price,” noted Carousel’s catering director, Kim R. Heffner.
Other large hotels offering spectacular packages are Clarion Resort, Dunes Manor, The Grand Hotel, The Edge & Lighthouse Club Hotel at Fager’s Island and the Princess Royale.
The Princess Royal is also the site of a great Ocean City New Year’s Day tradition. The “Sixteenth Annual Penguin Swim” is a fundraising event to benefit the nearby Berlin’s Atlantic General Hospital Foundation. Hospital spokeswoman, Amy Unger, noted that the 2009 swim “…raised over $73,000 in support of the hospital’s mission, ‘To provide quality care, personalized service and education to improve individual and community health.'”
But the philanthropic aspect of “The Penguin Swim” is only the half of it. The event is fun! Participants gather at the hotel at 12:00 pm to register for the 1:00 pm plunge. Afterwards, prizes and refreshments are given out in the atrium area of the hotel’s lobby.
“It works very much like a walk-a-thon,” said Toni Keiser, Vice President of Public Relations at the hospital. “The swimmers get sponsors and they’re off.”
The brave-hearted “penguins” can wear wet suits if they like, or they can play it safe and just dip one toe into the surf.
“Over the years I have watched [the fundraiser] grow with visitors from Baltimore, Washington and New York, “Keiser continued. “It’s become an annual tradition.”

Penguins To Take a New Years Day Dip

November 25, 2009

The Penguin Post has learned that on Jan. 1, 2010 the beachfront of the Princess Royale Hotel on 91st Street in Ocean City, Maryland will be crowded with hundreds of Penguin Swim participants and spectators ready to cheer them on as they plunge into the icy Atlantic to raise money for the hospital. Event day registration starts at noon on Jan. 1, 2010 in the atrium at the Princess Royale, with the swim starting at 1 p.m. Advertisement Participants who raise $25 will have their choice of a penguin hat, coozie or stuffed animal. Those who raise $75 can choose between a long sleeve T-shirt or penguin boxer shorts. Those who raise $150 will receive a sweatshirt or penguin pajama pants, and those who raise $250 will receive a beach towel or beach lounger. Those raising $500 or more will receive one prize from each prize level. First, second and third place trophies will be awarded to individual penguins who raise the most money, as well as to teams of penguins who raise the most money. Special recognition will be given to the youngest and oldest penguins. To register, or for more information about the Penguin Swim, please call Amy Unger, Director of Development, at 410-641-9644 or email her at Registrants can register online and track their fundraising at