SEA ISLE, N.J. (CBS) — Wearing moccasins and jean shorts, Frank Reed has the look of a man who doesn’t let a little thing like winter kill his beach buzz.
He’s a two time polar king. What’s that you ask?
For the 23rd year, Sea Isle makes frigid fun with a polar plunge and related activities that draws tens of thousands of visitors.
“It’s Mardi Gras in Sea Isle City,” said Jimmy Bennett, the owner of La Costa. “Everybody dresses up, comes out and has a great time. It’s an exciting event.”
The Chamber of Commerce hosts the plunge, giving businesses a bump during the doldrums of winter, but beyond the bands, beverages and wet wacky fun, is a special cause.
Mike Monichetti beams over the fact the talk in his seafood store is just often about autism as the catch of the day. For the last nine years, Mike’s Seafood has sponsored a walk and run on the day after the plunge to benefit families of children with autism.
“We give money to schools and autism support groups and families of special needs children,” Monichetti said. “And it’s just a great day that children with disabilities can come out and celebrate here in Sea Isle City up on the board walk and by the ocean there. It’s going to be beautiful.”
Beautiful weather in the forecast has helped Mike’s get 3,000 sign ups for the event which is twice as much as last year.
“We’re seeing him thrive in life and so it’s very evident that these kinds of things have to go on in order to be able to support families with disabilities and children who really want to have a great shot at life,” said walk participant Connie Mossop.
Monichetti has two autistic children and Mossop has a nephew with autism. They bond at Polar Bear Weekend. Whether for the plunge, the walk or both, 50,000 people need a place to stay.
“For Polar Bear, we start doing rentals back in like September and October. We start getting calls,” said Paul Bodo of Long & Foster in Sea Isle City. Realtors like Long & Foster says rentals for the weekend are booked.