What do you do when it’s New Year’s and you don’t have an ocean? The 140 hardy souls who took a New Year’s Day dip into a chilly pool were hopefully warmed by the good deed. The admission price for the privilege of riding a slide into 50-degree water at the Scott Mentzer pool, an open-air facility in Plugerville, Texas-based Heritage Park, was at least one can of non-perishable food.
Plungers ponied up more than that, however. The event raised 284 pounds of food, which was donated to Pflugerville’s Circle of Hope Community Center, according to Kaitlyn Neal, special events coordinator for the City of Pflugerville.
That said, attendance was notably down from years’ past. During pre-Covid times, around 250 people annually lined up to dip into the cold waters. This year was the first Neal worked the event, and she did not speculate on contribution levels from previous years, saying only that the event traditionally generated many full boxes of donations.
Circle of Hope Community Center’s Food Pantry serves 6,000 individuals within 1,500 families in the Pflugerville area, roughly 25 miles north of Austin. The organization also hosts a resource and learning center that provides access to a variety of food, earning, human services, medical and senior living resources.
Jan. 1 marked the 10th annual “Pfreeze Pflop,” as the event is known. It was the second year in a row that Circle of Hope Community Center was the beneficiary of swimmers’ largesse. In previous years, donations were given to a local church food pantry.
The event was modified from previous years. Only ten people at a time were allowed in the pool area, with a maximum of two going down the slides together, keeping the event in line with Covid-19 social distancing guidelines. When not on the slide itself, participants, staff and onlookers were all required to wear masks.
Willingness to take the plunge for a good cause cuts across demographics. While icy plunges are traditionally cherished among older individuals for their life-affirming properties, participation by older adults was matched by families with young children, Neal said.
While few people seemed moved to linger in the pool, plungers didn’t get much respite when they climbed out. According to Neal, the air temperature was in the mid-40s.