HUDSON — The Oakdale Plunge returns to Hudson on Feb. 29 at noon. Participants will splash into Oakdale Lake at 132 North 6th St. this year to raise money for the Hudson Fire Department Water Rescue and Dive Team and the Hudson Youth Department.
Participants are hard at work raising money to support their cause. The proceeds will be split evenly between the two departments.
“It’s a really amazing demonstration of community spirit,” said Peter Frank, a member of Friends of Hudson Youth. Frank participated in the plunge last year and described jumping into a lake in February as “very invigorating.”
Friends of Hudson Youth works closely with the Youth Department throughout the year and acts as the fiscal sponsor of the event. So far, 10 teams have signed up to take the plunge. Teams are encouraged to dress creatively and prizes will be awarded for Best Costume and Top Fundraiser.
“It’s the nature of the event that a lot of people sign up and donate last minute,” Frank said, remembering how momentum built as the day grew closer in previous years. Just three weeks out, teams have raised $11,840 of the total $25,000 goal.
The Water Rescue and Dive Team consists of volunteers who are no strangers to braving rough waters to aid those in trouble throughout the county. The team plans to use the funds to upgrade and maintain essential rescue equipment.
The Water Rescue and Dive Team is using some equipment from when the team was founded in 2003. Special Operations Officer Daniel Hickey said the team has to start replacing the equipment immediately.
Hickey said the first two years the funds were used to purchase underwater communication devices that allow divers to communicate verbally with surface support.
“It is incredibly more efficient and safe than we previously did it,” Hickey said. He wants the team to undergo more advanced training for moving water and ice rescues. The team will be in the water at the Oakdale Plunge to facilitate the event and provide emergency help if needed.
The Sea Otters, a team of local children, is returning for the second time. Children are encouraged to participate, and the registration fee is waived for brave swimmers under 18.
To warm up after a dip in the lake, hot coffee and cocoa will be served on the beach. Prize-winning chili from Morabito’s at 189 Healy Blvd. will be served.
Hudson Youth Department plans to use the funds to train lifeguards for the summer season and continue improvements at Oakdale Lake, where it holds a free summer day camp for local youth. Throughout the year, the Youth Department at 18 S. 3rd St. provides afterschool activities including computer access, educational programming, hot meals and recreation.
Frank said a lot of the work done with the funds from last year went to improve the grounds through landscaping and grading projects, as well as water quality. In addition, improvements were made to the kitchen in the concession stand.
Last year, 76 participants on 12 teams ran into the frigid waters of Oakdale Lake, raising $18,000. For more information visit oakdaleplunge.com.
Abby Hoover is a reporter for Columbia-Greene Media. Contact her at email@example.com or (518) 828-1616 ext. 2500.