In Sea Isle City, huge crowds are expected to plunge into the frigid waters of the Atlantic Saturday morning, officially kick starting the 2013 tourism season at the 19th annual Polar Bear Plunge.
Mayor of Sea Isle, Leonard C. Desiderio, said, "We're talking 40,000 to 50,000 people in February, not July...we're excited."
On Friday morning, mayor Desiderio and hundreds of Sea Isle residents stretched a ribbon across 28 blocks of the Sea Isle promenade. The mayor explained, "The ribbon was the longest ribbon cutting ceremony ever in the history of New Jersey."
Sea Isle officials say the ribbon cutting signifies the start of the summer season. They also endorsed their 'We're Ready' campaign, which is meant to shed the notion that Hurricane Sandy destroyed all of New Jersey's shore towns. "What we're doing is soliciting donations, and the ACME was the first one to step up with a $10,000 donation today for our 'We're Ready' campaign and 'We are ready!'" explained mayor Desiderio.
Owner of La Costa and director of tourism in Sea Isle, Jimmy Bennett, said, "So we expect this ‘We're Ready' campaign to make this a very large Polar Bear Plunge."
Local business owners in Sea Isle are ready for the 'plungers' and say they partner with Sea Isle City officials to coordinate the day's events. Bennett said, "We have festivities all day long. We have food vendors over in this area, over in this area is the family tent, we have a market tent and we have market vendors. There is going to be something for everybody all day long."
Sea Isle resident, Kristen Gray, said, "It's a lot of fun and they have a lot of events planned. A lot of people come out and it's just a great day - it really breaks up the winter."
This weekend's events also mark the anniversary of 35-year-old Tracy Hottenstein's mysterious and tragic death, back in 2009, after leaving a Sea Isle bar the weekend of the plunge. The Cape May County Prosecutor's Office has hung posters throughout the city and will set up a station on JFK Boulevard on Saturday morning, encouraging anyone with information to please come forward.
The parade to the beaches of Sea Isle is set to begin at 1:15 p.m. on Saturday and the actual plunge into the ocean begins at 2:00 p.m.
Register during Plunge Weekend at JFK and Landis Avenue, online or by downloading an official registration form at www.mikesseafood.com. Proceeds benefit Autism charities. (Info: phone 609-778-8418 or email firstname.lastname@example.org).