Police Define Fashion For Annual Plunge
By Susan Nolan
Hampton Union, Tuesday, January 28, 2003
HAMPTON BEACH — It's shaping up as the most talked-about fashion event of the season as local police prepare for the fourth annual New Hampshire Penguin Plunge.
As many as 500 daredevils are expected to throw themselves into the Atlantic —- or at least to gingerly dip their torsos into the icy waters off Hampton Beach —- all for the cause of the New Hampshire Special Olympics.
A spirit of camaraderie and rivalry is the hallmark of local police officers who are joining in the crazy fun in order to raise funds for the special needs athletic event.
And attire is tops on their list as they prepare for the frigid fun.
Exeter Police Chief Richard Kane says he will wear a tuxedo for the Feb. 9 event.
The first year he plunged, the Exeter chief cut a fine figure in zebra striped shorts as he streaked across the beach to the water. Last year he opted for the tuxedo jacket and found it so fashionable, he added tuxedo pants this year in place of his bathing trunks.
Unlike some colleagues who will shriek at the salt- water, Kane thinks it's grand. "The colder the better," he said. "If it snows, that's even better."
Kane said this is the third year he has taken the plunge. "It's take-your-breath-away cold, hut it's fun and it's a great atmosphere and it's for a good cause, he said.
Despite his junior prom look, Kane's lieutenant will not follow suit.
"I think I'm going to wear more of a Hawaiian motif," said Exeter Police Lt. Steve Dockery. "I'm probably going to wear more of a Hawaiian shirt."
Dockery declares he got roped in to the wacky event by his chief during the warm weather. At the time, he could not imagine temperatures like last week's, when the mercury reaching zero looked like a hot spell.
At the time, Dockery had talked Kane and others into the 28-mile Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk. They raised $5,000 for the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber Institute for Pediatric Cancer, he said.
"So he told me nonchalantly 'Because I did this walk, now you have to jump into the ocean,"' Dockery recalled, chuckling. "In my ignorance I said, 'Yes, that would be fine."'
It's now payback time.
"Being a man of my word, I will be right there alongside of them jumping in that ocean," said Dockery.
The water temperature last year was 35 degrees Fahrenheit when about 400 fund-raisers plunged in. Dockery, who admittedly is creeped out by cold water, said he hopes his hawaiian shirt will ward off some of the chill.
Hampton Chief Prepares
At Hampton Beach itself, Police Chief William Wrenn is readying for his fourth plunge. But the local police chief is no fashion maven.
He's wearing bathing trunks, a gray T-shirt sporting the Hampton Rotary emblem, while sneakers, and no socks.
The Rotary puts so much money on him, he is obligated to advertise their name, he said. "I've been bought," said Wrenn.
Still, it's better than the year he went as Santa Claus, said the chief. "My heard got wet and it pretty much hung down to my knees for the rest of the event, so that costume is out the window," he said.
And while the only fashion wild and craziness he will sport is an array of "Hawaiian colors" on his swim trunks, Wrenn pointed to his friend and town selectman Brian Warburton as the height of Penguin Plunge chic.
"He has a pair of bathing trunks with hearts and cupids that he usually wears," said Wrenn. "They're horrible-looking trunks but he wears them every year. He calls himself the Love Bandit."
Hampton School Resource Officer Tom Linane will follow his leader into the icy Atlantic. But, like his chief, he's no fashion favorite.
"He usually goes in ... dressed as a Hampton cop that's how creative he is," said Wrenn. But as Wrenn pointed out, forget about fashion.
"To look dashing in the middle of the winter on Hampton Beach really takes a lot of doing ... but I will do my best to dash," he said.
Local police still need money donations for their efforts on behalf of Special Olympics.
Seacoast residents willing to support the cause are asked to drop donations off at their local police station or to send checks made payable to Special Olympics (Penguin Plunge) in care of:
Epping Police Department
37 Pleasant St.
Epping, NH 03042
Chief Richard Kane
Lt. Stephen Dockery
Exeter Police Department
20 Court St.
Exeter, NH 03833
Chief William Wrenn
or SRO Tom Linane
Hampton Police Department
66 Ashworth avenue
Hampton, NH 03842
Detective Richard Gendron
Stratham Police Department
10 Bunker Hill Avenue
Stratham, NH 03885