Group welcomes 2011 with cold Pony Pasture Polar Plunge

Group welcomes 2011 with cold Pony Pasture Polar PlungeBy Phil Riggan – James River News Hub

The 4th Annual Dip in the James, the Pony Pasture Polar Plunge, took place at noon on New Years Day from the takeout at Pony Pasture Rapids park.

It was a quick dip in the 36 degree water, with everyone jumping in, turning around and right back up the wooden staircase to awaiting towels. The first wave had about 15 plungers, with another five more stragglers jumping in a few minutes late. 

Courtney Cotton was brave enough to take a second dipCourtney Cotton, the organizer, was dressed as a pink princess and was brave enough to take a second dip, this time making sure she got her hair wet too.

Courtney Cotton, the organizer of the Pony Pasture Polar PlungeShe came up with the idea to hold the polar plunge four years ago. A native of Pittsburgh, she had seen crazy ‘Burghers jump into the Monongahela River and decided Richmond needed its own winter dip. Her boyfriend, Kelly Posadas, is a native of Virginia Beach and had seen the group that takes the annual plunge into the ocean.

Clark Jones (at right) has participated in all four years of the P4Clark Jones has participated in all four years of the P4. He said he grew up just a couple of blocks away from the park and has been going to Pony Pasture all his life.

“It is a tense moment building up to jumping in,” he said. “It was easier this year. [The James River] was 14 feet and freezing last year and it was in the mid-30s.” The river was at around 4 feet this year and the temperature at noon was around 50.

About 18 people participated in the Pony Pasture Polar PlungeDennis Jensen and his 9-year-old son Cole (at left in the photo at right) read about the plunge this past summer on the forum and decided they’d stick to their promise and take the New Year’s dip. “Now we can say we did it,” Jensen said.

Will McQuate, who works for the James River Park System, said that it was cold but not unbearable. He spends plenty of time at the river for work and play, but prefers to stay out of the water when its this cold.

A small amount of donations were taken for the Wayne Can’t Keep a Goodman Down Foundation. Goodman is a member of Richmond MORE and was injured in a biking accident in Forest Hill Park, breaking his neck. He is recovering in the Spinal Cord Injury Unit at Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center. See the Richmond Times-Dispatch story for more.


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