In Portsmouth, they'll be 'washing off the stain of 2021’

New Year’s Day dive is back on this Saturday

Posted 12/28/21

PORTSMOUTH — After a one-year hiatus due to COVID-19 concerns, the annual New Year’s Day “Polar Dive” at Island Park Beach is returning this Saturday, Jan. 1.

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In Portsmouth, they'll be 'washing off the stain of 2021’

New Year’s Day dive is back on this Saturday

Posted

PORTSMOUTH — After a one-year hiatus due to COVID-19 concerns, the annual New Year’s Day “Polar Dive” at Island Park Beach is returning this Saturday, Jan. 1.

Event organizer John Vitkevich said a big bonfire — featuring 384 pallets — will be lit at 11:18 a.m., and the dive will take place promptly at noon.

Although organizers pulled the plug on the Jan. 1, 2021 plunge for safety’s sake, a couple of dozen brave souls still jumped in to welcome the new year. And, in early September, the bonfire that accompanies the dive was held nine months late in an event benefiting the Portsmouth Historical Society.

“We’re going to wash off the stain of 2021,” Vitkevich said of Saturday’s event, which takes place on Park Avenue, north of Boyds Lane. Low tide is at 12:18 p.m., which means there will be plenty of beach. 

The event is also a fund-raiser, and all proceeds from raffles and other donations will be going to the nonprofit Island Park Preservation Society, which hosts community events and also beautifies the neighborhood.

“I want to put flowers up on those black lanterns along the beach,” said Vitkevich, offering just one idea on how to use the funds. “I’m trying to get inspired to have more ideas of fun, creative things that we can do. I just want to make Island Park nicer.”

After the noontime plunge, revelers will head over to Tremblay’s Bar and Grill — Vitkevich referred to the restaurant as the “Island Park Civic Center” — and enjoy refreshments, libations, and raffles.

The Town Council voted unanimously Dec. 13 to approve the event, after hearing from Fire Chief Paul Ford. The chief has final say over the size of the bonfire, according to recent revisions to the town’s burning ordinance. 

The fire also has to be on private property, Chief Ford said. Vitkevich said the bonfire will be lit on property owned by John Anthony, who gave his permission.

In making a motion to approve the event, council member Keith Hamilton also nominated Town Administrator Richard Rainer, Jr. “to jump in the water.”

Vitkevich has been spared from getting wet himself over the past two polar dives because he’s been too busy handling the raffle. Someone else has been tasked that job for Saturday, however, so he’s jumping in.

“This year, I have to,” he said, adding that he can’t wait for the fun to start.

“I like seeing people with fun on their faces. They don’t get to do this that often,” he said.

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