By JESSICA WRIXON
After super storm Sandy left Seaside in shambles, the freezing cold event, which also takes place in Wildwood, was held in Long Branch for the 2013 plunge due to communal devastation and unsafe conditions of the water and the beach.
After $1.8 billion were given to Seaside Heights towards relief efforts, the New Jersey town known for the MTV television series ‘The Jersey Shore,’ finally built itself up to open to the public for summer fun. However, on Sept. 12, a large portion of the famous Seaside Heights boardwalk, along with over 50 businesses, were burned to the ground after faulty wires caught fire in the Kohr’s Frozen Custard Stand.
“The devastation that’s hit Seaside Heights the past year and a half is heartbreaking,” said Robert Petrucci, 28, of North Caldwell. Petrucci and his family owns a summer house located by Chadwick Beach in Seaside for over 20 years and has participated in the last four plunges except the plunge in Long Branch.
“I do the plunge to raise money for my sister who does bowling in the Special Olympics. Regardless of the fire and the mess left by Sandy that has yet to be cleaned up, I will participate in the 2014 plunge; not only for my sister or the charity, but also for the support of Seaside Heights as a community,” Petrucci said.
Joe Strepparava, 21, said, “I’ve participated in the 2012 and 2013 Polar Bear Plunge. I actually enjoyed the plunge more when it was in Long Branch because there was more room for the massive crowds of people that attend the event.” The Closter native joins a plunge team with his co-workers and each of them set a personal goal to raise money and just enjoy the freezing cold event.
“The fact that the fire destroyed the boardwalk doesn’t affect my decision to partake in the event. If the shore can be rebuilt after a malicious hurricane, the boardwalk and businesses can be rebuilt by the community and volunteers in no time,” said Strepparava, who has been a long time visitor of Seaside and the boardwalk.
REBUILDING THE BOARDWALK
Although Hurricane Sandy and the vicious fire had torn through the Seaside boardwalk, they haven’t stopped people in and out of the community from rebuilding and adjusting back to a normal life. As a relief effort, Gov. Chris Christie has promised Seaside to use some of the Sandy relief effort money for debris clean up, grants for the damaged businesses, along with removing structures that can pose as a further safety hazard.
“We’re moving as swiftly and aggressively as we can to help these communities and their businesses rebuild from this unfortunate stumbling block to our overall Sandy recovery,” stated Gov. Christie.
After Sandy, New Jersey has realized that Seaside Heights can and will rebuild in time when it comes to tourism and specific events that mean a lot to the people who participate and benefit from them.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
The Polar Bear Plunge and its participants, which raised $1.3 million in 2012 and $1.4 million in 2013, strives each year to reach a new goal and attract more participants than the year before. New participants that are interested in the event can sign up in a team, individually, or just make a donation through the Polar Bear Plunge website. All plungers must raise $100 to plunge. Prizes are given out to the plungers depending on the amount of money each plunger raises; sweatshirts are given out to all plungers.
Visit the Polar Bear Plunge website for more information on the Polar Bear Plunge, current locations of the event, registration and other charities to participate in.