OLD ORCHARD BEACH — Vikki Normand was doing jumping jacks on the beach New Year’s day.

The Sanford woman, clad in brightly colored exercise gear, was keeping warm while waiting for the annual Lobster Dip to start. Normand was one of 303 people at the beach Thursday to start the new year by running into the Atlantic Ocean at noon. The event is Special Olympics Maine’s biggest fundraiser, and this year the dip raised more than $105,000, according to event spokeswoman Lisa Bird.

“It’s for such a great cause,” said Normand, and added that she was excited to be part of an event where the money raised stays in Maine.

This was Normand’s first dip, and she was part of Team Christo’s Place, representing a restaurant in Sanford, which had raised more than $4,000.

“It’s awesome,” she said. “I’m so pumped.”

Despite the weather ”“ with the air temperature at 28 degrees and the water temperature at 35 degrees ”“ Normand was not the only one enthusiastic about running into the ocean. Spirits were high and the atmosphere was festive, and some even came in costume.

Donald Fry of Massachusetts was dressed as Santa Claus, and with him were Janet Vigeant of Massachusetts and Ann Lucas of Alabama, who were dressed as Santa’s helpers.

When asked about his costume, Fry said, with a merry “Ho, ho, ho,” that he was a professional Santa Claus. He said they came up to Maine last year at this time to check up on their summer home in Ocean Park, and saw the event. They decided to come back this year and participate and support the Special Olympics, he said.

For local resident Michael Coleman and his son Peter, the dip was a time for father-son bonding. This was Michael Coleman’s fourth lobster dip, and 12-year-old Peter’s second.

“It’s a good way to start off the new year,” said Michael Coleman.

This year, Peter Coleman brought along a friend: fellow middle schooler Garrett Dupee. This was Dupee’s first dip, and though he noted that it was “really cold,” he was smiling.

“I’m feeling great,” he said.

— Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or [email protected]

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