North Fork Polar Bears ‘Splash for CAST’ plunge returns Jan. 28

North Forkers are preparing once again to bravely plunge into icy cold waters to help neighbors in need. 

The North Fork Polar Bears, a winter swimming group with more than 130 members, will host its second annual Splash for CAST on Sunday, Jan 28.  The charitable cold water plunge takes place at 10:30 a.m. at the Silver Sands Motel in Greenport.

The event benefits the nonprofit Center for Advocacy, Support and Transformation in Southold. Known locally as CAST, the  organization works to meet the  basic needs of underserved and low-income residents across the North Fork and Shelter Island.

North Fork Polar Bears co-founder Patricia Garcia-Gomez said that the funds raised by this plunge go directly back into the community. 

While CAST will remain the primary beneficiary, North Fork Polar Bears added a second beneficiary this year: Cornell Cooperative Extension’s marine program, Back to the Bays.

“This year, we’re so excited because we get to [help] the community and the people and then we also bring in the environment, taking care of the waters that bring us so much joy but that also so many people depend on here on the North Fork,” Ms. Garcia-Gomez said.

 The Back to the Bays program is dedicated to preserving and protecting local waters and providing a clean environment for native fish, waterfowl and plants while helping those who depend on the marine resources remain sustainable.

Back to the Bays director Kimberly Barbour said that the proceeds from the splash will help the group establish a new stewardship site on the North Fork.

“It will be a receiving area for various shellfish restoration and habitat restoration efforts,” Ms. Barbour said. “Once the event has passed, we will be moving on to phase two, which is figuring out site selection and permitting and all the specifics.”

Back to the Bays will operate  in partnership with the North Fork Polar Bears, she added.

“We’re going to have them helping us save the bay, help with some eelgrass restoration and habitat restoration,” Ms. Barbour said. “It’ll be a really great partnership moving forward.”

More than 200 participants at last year’s inaugural Splash for CAST plunge raised over $50,000. This year, the Polar Bears are aiming to get 300 plungers and raise $75,000.

CAST executive director Cathy Demeroto said the support from the community is “greatly needed and so appreciated.

“We are continuing to see a growing need in our community for food relief and emergency assistance, particularly during the difficult winter months,” she said. “Having this charity event to help support our programs to meet basic needs for our neighbors is incredible and appreciated by CAST and the people we serve.”

Ms. Demeroto  added that the funding this event generates is “critical” to meeting an escalating need. 

“We hit over 413,000 meals that we provided in 2023, which is a record for CAST, and I expect the need to continue to grow,” she said.

Registration are $25, $50 or $125. All participants will receive North Fork Polar Bears Splash For CAST branded merchandise and coupons to local businesses, according to a press release.

Silver Sands Motel will provide hot drinks, towels, fire pits and food for purchase before and after the plunge.  

The plunge is set to  take place rain, shine or snow — but if  extreme weather is predicted and cancellation is unavoidable, all registrants will be advised via email in advance. Pre-registration is strongly encouraged but there will be sign-ups available  on-site. Check-in begins at 9:30 a.m. and sponsorships are also available.

To register, donate or fundraise visit,

Ms. Garcia-Gomez said this is the perfect start-up event for those interested in regular cold-water swimming.

“I think one thing that’s really important with cold water plunging [is] there are many people who really want to do it and may feel a little bit timid to and if there was one time to do it, it would be in this environment,” she said. “You’re doing it in not only the fun of the event but in the care of the Polar Bears and everybody who’s hosting the event, and we have full safety protocols happening and it’s joyous and it’s fun.”