Small Town Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla’s Outreach in Winter

Monday, March 3, 2014

County Sheriff and Deputies swimming to shore

County Sheriff and Deputies swimming to shore. Photo by Auxiliarist Kelly Townsend.

Hickory, NC – As Flotilla leaders and staff officers, do you ever wonder what your flotilla can do to spread the word of Recreational Boating Safety (RBS) to your community in the middle of winter? Our local Flotilla has found a way…with Polar Plunges!

Article by – Mr. Kelly Townsend, USCG Auxiliary Public Affairs Officer

Polar Plunges have become a winter rage all over the country. They normally take place on dreary, cloudy, and cold days in January and February each year. It is not often that you find a bright, sunny 60 degree day for a Polar Plunge. But, that is exactly the weather that Hickory was blessed with for its Polar Plunge on a firdged Saturday in February. This year’s event was the 9th annual Polar Plunge sponsored by the Hickory Police Department to raise funds for the Special Olympics.

Our Western NC Foothills Flotilla setup a display booth with RBS information to interact with local rescue and safety agencies, as well as the public. This year’s event was a terrific success. Due to the wonderful weather, a total of 56 people took the plunge into Lake Hickory, which was a cool 45 degrees. The youngest polar plunge jumper was age 4! The oldest jumper was 87! The Hickory Police raised $7,500 for Special Olympic athletes.

From left to right: Mauro Capobianco, Kelly Townsend, Larry Mallonee, and John Gray in front of the Flotilla 054-26-05 Public Affairs booth.

From left to right: Mauro Capobianco, Kelly Townsend, Larry Mallonee, and John Gray in front of the Flotilla Public Affairs booth. Photo by Auxiliarist Kelly Townsend.

As a result of its participation, the local Flotilla made contacts with the Alexander County NC Rescue Squad and may soon be making a presentation at their monthly meeting to describe the services we can offer. ie: Public Education (PE) and Vessel Safety Checks (VSC). The Auxiliary volunteers also interacted with several potential new members, as well as, the son of Hickory Police Capt. Thurmond Whisnant, who has decided on a career with the USCG, and wants to attend the CG Academy upon graduation from high school.

Rescue divers pause for a photo after a day in the water.

Rescue divers pause for a photo after a day in the water. Photo by Auxiliarist Kelly Townsend.

Most importantly, they promoted a general awareness of the US Coast Guard and the Auxiliary’s message of safe boating. If a small flotilla in a small town can do it, anybody can! So, perhaps other flotillas wondering what they can do in the middle of winter, can communicate the Safe Boating message and take it to their own local winter events in their home towns.

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  1. Trice says:

    how do they do that, the local district in Northern Illinois wont even let Aux Members in the water. My company has sponsored local events for emergency prep and safety and the local Aux will one set up booths, if they even show up, and my husband is in the AUX. We are told that the AUX wont do anything in the water officially because they do not want to be liable

    • Rande Wilson says:

      The Auxiliary was NOT in the water. The Sheriff, the Deputies and others were in the water. The Auxiliary members were high and dry in the Recreational Boating Safety booth,

  2. Kelly Townsend says:

    Hi Trice,

    I am the author of the article. As Rande Wilson correctly points out…no way we were in the water! We simply manned a PA booth and distributed RBS material to thos attending. We also interacting with the professional safety agencies there – ie: local Rescue Squads & Sheriff’s Depts, which may result in some future PE for us with those organizations. Thanks for looking and yoru comments

  3. Brice Andrew Cook says:

    What a great way to get the word out into the community and have a fun time doing it.

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