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Habitat for Humanity Williamson-Maury hosts second annual Hab-a-Splash! & Winter Festival

February 25, 2017

Dropping temps don’t ‘hamper the fun’ at Habitat’s Hab-a-Splash

By Carole Robinson • Senior Staff Writer

Tuesday, February 28, 2017-

Polar Bears cheer on plungers about to hit 58 degree water on a windy 44 degree day

All things considered, quite a few brave – or maybe crazy – people young and older turned out Saturday morning to make a splash at the second annual Hab-a-Splash benefiting Habitat for Humanity Williamson-Maury.

Just 24 hours earlier, temperatures were approaching 80 degrees but by jump time on Saturday the thermometer had dropped to about 45 degrees and winds between 11 and 21 mph at the Westhaven Resident’s Pool – but the sun was shining brightly.

In spite of the weather, there was a carnival-like atmosphere around the pool with music and games to occupy the whole family as participants and spectators awaited the first plunge.

Nina Regala with Fantasy Face Artistry paints Isla Bussone’s face.

“It was a brisk 45 degrees, but didn’t hamper the fun in any way,” said Jennee Galland, HFHWM director of communications. “We want to thank all our sponsors, attendees and those who raised funds to jump to support Habitat Williamson-Maury.”

Pool water was a warm 58 degrees, according to Traci Blue, co-owner of Sweetwater Pool Maintenance, the company that maintains the Westhaven pool year-round. It was higher than expected, but the brisk wind negated any warmth the bright sun might have provided.

Tristan Rettich, one of three lifeguards on duty, was ready to do his job if needed but hoped he wouldn’t be needed.

“I’ll do what I have to do if needed, but I’ve got my fingers crossed I don’t have to go in,” he said.

Unfortunately for Rettich and the other guards, Shawn Blue, co-owner of Sweetwater Pool Maintenance, decided to challenge the lifeguards to make a jump. They did and he donated $100 for each to HFHWM and a bonus in their paychecks.

A group from St. Matthew’s School make the jump.

“It was kind of cold,” said lifeguard Chris Cretty, who moved to Tennessee from Long Island, N.Y. He had managed to escape the annual New Year’s Day Polar Bear jumps in New York, he said, “but this is for a good cause.”

A group of boys representing St. Matthew’s School made the jump.

“It stung a lot,” Clint Russell said.

Samantha Ude and Elaina Bussone with Channel 4 weather mascot, Snowbird.

“It was great but it was colder than I thought,” said Brient Mills. “It was worth it and a lot of fun.”

“It was too cold,” said Jack Mills.

After the jump and still in their wet bathing suits, the group of 8- to 10-year olds wandered over to DJ Louis Lee to dance … and warm up while parents went to food trucks outside the pool for hot chocolate and warm food.

The final jump of the day included the two dancing polar bears and another donation from Shawn Blue.

“Every dollar we raised at the event will go straight to the materials needed to build affordable homes for local, qualifying families,” Galland said. “Please visit www.hfhwm.org to learn how you can join as a volunteer, sponsor, future homeowner, or donor.”

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