A week before the Polar Bear Plunge at Sandy Point State Park was canceled because of high winds and freezing temperatures, a hardy group of North County folks took their own dip into frigid water.
On Jan. 18, some 15 members of Ravens Roost 99 plunged into a pool outside of A-Town Bar and Grille on Brick Store Road in Hampstead, where they meet each month. And like those who were scheduled to jump into the Chesapeake Bay, the Ravens Roost 99 men and women raised money for Special Olympics Maryland.
The water was about 34 degrees and the temperature was in the low 20's, with wind chills in the single digits, said Mike Terry, president of the Roost.
"We went completely under the water," he said. "Most of us wore bathing suits and some of the ladies had shorts and T-shirts."
Terry's 20-year-old daughter, Maria, had company on her dunk. She and stepsister, Brigid Nodonly, 20, and good friend, Jenna Cimino, 23, took the plunge holding hands.
"I was so cold I don't think I even made any noise," said Maria, a junior at St. Mary's College. "There was this big heater when we got out that felt great."
The Roost plungers jumped into a 300-gallon livestock water tank that member Jon Meadowcroft had painted purple and decorated with the Baltimore Ravens' logo.
A wooden ramp led up to the tank, which sat on a platform and was under a purple canvas canopy. The platform was decorated with purple flamingos.
About 75 members of the Roost and other supporters stayed warm and dry in the parking lot while they cheered their friends on.
In all, Ravens Roost 99 raised $3,085 for Maryland's Special Olympics. Last year's plunge by the Roost raised $2,000.
Organizers of the official plunge have rescheduled it. It will now take place at Sandy Point State Park on March 8. The postponed event had raised $1.5 million in pledges before it was postponed, according to the Polar Bear Plunge website.
Mike Terry said the Roost had participated in the plunge at Sandy Point State Park in the past, but decided last year to hold its own plunge and not have the expense of renting a bus to take the whole Roost to the official plunge.
"Now that the other one was canceled, I think we were one of the few groups that actually did a plunge," he said.
Terry said Roost 99 members support two other charities. The charities are My Neighbors Foundation, which supports students in the Hereford Zone with supplies, tuition for sports or summer camps, and other school-related expenses; and the Anderson-Snyder Memorial Fund, which supports local charities in memory of Norman Anderson and Joshua Snyder, Hereford High School graduates who were killed in Iraq in 2005.
For more information about Ravens Roost 99, or to see more photos, go to http://www.roost99.com.