Balmy river awaits Back Eddy plungers

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"We may have to dump ice cubes in the river to cool things down — make them earn their brunch," Back Eddy owner Sal Liotta said after checking the Westport River temperature by the restaurant Friday.

"It's extremely mild — 46 degrees," he said, about 14 degrees warmer than during last year's frigid New Year's Day plunge there.

"Maybe I should institute the 39 degree or below rule" to qualify for the free brunch that the Back Eddy offers plungers every New Year's Day.

But he won't. "We're good to go — it will be fun."

The deal is the same as always. Those who jump off the dock — all the way in with no wetsuits allowed — earn free brunch. Everyone else pays $25.

The plunges take place starting promptly at 11 a.m. and continue to 2 p.m.

"With the balmy water we're expecting a good turnout." They've already heard from lots of people, among them the New England Vikings football team that jumped en-masse last year. "That group can really chow," Mr. Liotta said.

Attendance at the Back Eddy plunge set a record two years ago — a sunny mild day — when around 380 took the leap. Last year was bitterly cold though with water temperatures right at the freezing point. No surprise that attendance dropped to around 200.

"So come on down — brunch won't hurt quite so much this year," he added.

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.