OCEAN CITY – More than 700 people braved the cold ocean waters off 91st Street last week to raise funds for Atlantic General Hospital (AGH).
On New Year’s Day, 713 participants donning costumes and bathing suits took a plunge in the chilling waters off Ocean City for the 26th Annual Penguin Swim, a fundraiser to support the nonprofit community hospital.
This year, the hospital raised a preliminary gross amount of $89,063 from the Penguin Swim, but officials expect that total to increase in the coming days.
“We expect that number to increase as final donations roll in,” Event Coordinator Joy Stokes said.
Since its inception, the annual Penguin Swim has grossed more than $1.4 million for health care services in the community, making it one of the hospital’s largest fundraisers.
Legacy Sponsor Bull on the Beach, for example, has contributed nearly $630,000 to the Penguin Swim since 1995, and Ocean City Ravens Roost #44 has contributed nearly $135,000 to the Penguin Swim over the last 11 years.
Stokes said participating in the Penguin Swim has become an annual tradition for hundreds of residents and visitors and many local businesses.
The Bull on the Beach team kicked off this year’s Penguin Swim with its traditional parade down the beach, stopping briefly for a wedding ceremony. The newlyweds later joined the rest of the swimmers as they made their way into the water.
Organizers this year recorded a water temperature of 47 degrees for the 2020 Penguin Swim, but that didn’t stop people from participating.
“Even though it was a little chilly, people really got into it this year,” Stokes said.
Not all participants arrived dressed as penguins, organizers said. Costumes included “Saved by the Bell” cast members, Frosty the Snowman and even a pair of flip-flops.
“I think this year’s Penguin Swim was a huge success,” Stokes said. “You could just feel the excitement. Everyone was pumped up, and the morale was high.”
Officials attributed the event’s success to AGH Foundation’s staff, the Penguin Swim committee, and event co-chairs Michael Cylc and Phillip Cheung, who devoted a great deal of their time and energy leading up to New Year’s Day. They also recognized the support of the residents and resort visitors that AGH serves, as well as the many AGH/HS associates and community volunteers.
“It was a warm and wonderful day to hold our 26th Annual Penguin Swim,” said Michael Franklin, president and CEO of Atlantic General Hospital. “It’s always great to join community members and visitors in supporting one of the most important assets in our community. The swim is a fun and unique way to kick off the New Year.”
Winners listed in order of award sequence are as followed:
Zoo Crew (Breinigsville, Pa.): $1,975
The Roarty Family (Churchville, Md.): $850
Parker’s Home for Peculiar Children (Gaithersburg, Md.): $750
Ocean City Ravens Roost #44 (Ocean City): $14,757
HFY Swim Team (Salisbury): $725
Ocean Pines Penguin Swim Team (Ocean Pines): $375
Bull on the Beach (Ocean City): $27,486
Carrabba’s West Ocean City (Ocean City): $1,165
AGH’s Frosty Flip Flops (Berlin): $850
Richard Moore (Glen Burnie, Md.): $625
Robert LeCompte (Columbia, Md.): $575
Arleen Dinneen (Ellicott City, Md.): $525
Max Ewancio (Berlin): $825
Nicholas Franklin (Berlin): $450
Dennis Tice, Jr. (Lusby, Md.): $275
Best Overall: “Frosty” Timothy Yates (Boonsboro, Md.)
Most Spirited: “Blue Shark & Hula Girls” Emily Brozena, Kelli Brozena, Matthew Brozena and Lindsey Carter from Frost Paws Team (Telford, Pa.)
Most Creative: “Fun in the Sun” Peter Hesson, Lynn Ceritano, MacKenzie Callahan, Macklin Risch and Charles Bitler from Flip-N-Flop Team (Frankford, Del.)
Best Little Penguin: “O’Sea Navy Sweeties” Sienna & Keera Pearce and McKenna Schlegel from It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere Team (Effort, Pa.)
Best Team/Group Costume: “Saved by the Bell” Chance Ebel and friends (Ocean City)
Honorable Mention: “Missed Virginia Beach” Edward Geis (Eure, N.C.)
Special Recognition Prizes
Youngest Penguin: Sawyer Long (Berlin), 2 Months, 8 Days
Bill Hunter (Ocean Pines), 91 Years, 6 Months, 20 Days
Traveled the Furthest: Christina Fraschetti (Oceanside, Calif.)