OLD ORCHARD BEACH — The breezy air was a balmy 50 degrees Tuesday, but there were still winter boots on the beach as hundreds of participants and spectators gathered for the 31st annual Lobster Dip to raise money for Special Olympics Maine.

While the Lobster Dip is a New Year’s Day tradition, last year it was postponed to a later date because of freezing weather. Tuesday’s weather seemed to concern few of the 270 people who charged into the frothy Atlantic just after noon.

Among the runners taking off from the stretch of sand in front of The Brunswick was Melissa Boulette, 39, a business development manager who lives in Bath. She wore a black string bikini as she raced into the 42-degree water.

Video of Polar Bear Dip & Dash and Lobster Dip

Boulette was joined by a friend, Tammy Shiers, 47, a Bath resident who is a dispatcher for the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Department. Shiers wore a tankini that provided a bit more coverage.

“The less you have on, the easier it is to warm up when you get out,” Boulette said, speaking from experience. “This is my third year and this time I talked Tammy into doing it, too.”

Shiers raised $370 for Special Olympics Maine with her last-minute effort and Boulette raised $3,300, she said.

The event raised a total of more than $100,000 for the athletic organization that benefits individuals with intellectual disabilities, said Ian Frank, state director.

“We’re always happy to kick off the new year with a great fundraiser,” Frank said.

The Lobster Dip is one of several similar fundraisers held this time of year.

The Polar Bear Dip & Dash, held Monday at East End Beach in Portland, drew 250 participants who raised more than $25,000 for the Natural Resources Council of Maine and its efforts to fight climate change, said NRCM spokeswoman Judy Berk.

Caring Unlimited, York County’s domestic violence program, will hold its 18th annual Atlantic Plunge: Freezin’ for a Reason at 11 a.m. Saturday at Gooch’s Beach in Kennebunk. Storm date is Jan. 12.

Also among the Lobster Dip runners Tuesday were Max Mahoney and Eric Bradanese, both 28 and from Boston. Mahoney, a cancer researcher, has spent summers at his family’s beach house in Ocean Park since he was a kid. He and Bradanese, a civil engineer, raised $350 each for Special Olympics Maine.

“Anything for Special Olympics,” Mahoney said. “It’s a great organization.”

It turned out to be a trial run for both men, who were among several runners who decided to double dip.

“I feel great right now,” Bradanese said after his second dive into the frigid water.


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