CALAIS, Maine — More than 150 people, in various stages of dress from bright-colored swim trunks to Peter Pan costumes, plunged into the Passamaquoddy Bay on Friday to help raise money for the Ronald McDonald House in Bangor.
The event was part of Washington County Community College’s 12th annual Polar Bear Dip.
Sponsored by the WCCC Student Senate, the dip occurred about noon at Split Rock on the Passamaquoddy Reservation.
This year’s determined dippers raised $21,945 — about $5,000 more than last year — with more funds expected to trickle in over the next couple of weeks.
The college estimates the event has raised nearly $200,000 in the past 12 years.
Ronald McDonald House representative Darlene MacLeod said that the annual dip was the Bangor facility’s largest fundraiser. More than 500 residents stay in the 14-bedroom house each year.
“Probably a third of them are from Washington County. There is another big majority from Aroostook County and then less from central Maine,” she said. The facility is home to families of children who need to be near Bangor medical facilities.
Karen Gookin, WCCC’s director of residential life, praised everyone who helped make the event possible including members of the Maine National Guard and the Passamaquoddy Tribe.
“Tremendous, tremendous support from them, we can’t thank them enough,” she said.
People came from all over the state and New Brunswick to participate.
Jeffrey McLain of Bangor raised more than $400. He said this was his eighth year of dipping.
“I only will live once and if I’m not going to have fun, then what’s the sense and it’s for a good cause,” McLain said.
Andrew Crosby of Herman said he decided to participate because it was for a good cause.
“It’s once a year, so might as well get involved,” Crosby said.
There also were more than 30 students from Northern Maine Community College and a team from Calais Regional Hospital dressed up as Peter Pan and Captain Hook. The federal government was represented with employees from the U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Coast Guard and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.