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Lake Plunge Benefits N.H. Special Olympics

Laconia, N.H. (ap) — Hundreds of people jumped into New Hampshire’s largest lake on Saturday to raise $66,000 for the state’s Special Olympics programs.

Dubbed the Winni Dip, adults plunged into frigid Lake Winnipesaukee Saturday; high school students will splash in the icy waters Sunday.

Tilton Police Chief Robert Cormier, one of the fundraiser’s organizers, said more than 100 people registered for the Saturday event and at least 60 are signed up for Sunday.

Dippers raised at least $250 to participate Saturday and $175 to participate Sunday. Larger sums were rewarded with gift cards and other prizes.

Cormier said registration is double what it was last year — no doubt in part because of the relatively balmy 40-degree temperatures in the forecast. “It will feel like a heat wave,” Cormier said before the plunge. Water temperature remains a brisk 32 degrees. Dippers entered the water at noon across from the Margate Hotel in Laconia.

The fundraiser supports the more than 5,600 athletes who participate in the Special Olympics New Hampshire’s 14 events each year. Law Enforcement Torch Run participants — who run campaigns throughout the year to raise funds and promote awareness of the Special Olympics — were expected in force.

Awards are given for best costume — the theme is “rock and roll” — and for top fundraising efforts. Those who wish to stay dry could still participate by registering as “sunbathing bears.”