It seemed like all of Westport was at Compo Beach on July 4, when the thermometer hit 85 degrees and the water temperature was comfortable at about 70 degrees.

Today, New Year's Day, only a few dozen bathers are expected to be there, exposing skin to air temperatures in the 40s and water even colder than that.

But most of the hearty souls taking the annual Polar Bear Plunge will be freezin' for a good reason -- to raise money for children who need help.

At least two locals groups are using the chilly splash to raise money for Westport-based children's charities -- one for the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp and one for Save the Children.

The Team Mossman Triathlon Club plans to take the plunge at about 10 a.m. to benefit Save the Children, the nonprofit that provides disaster relief for children around the globe.

About an hour later, a group from Temple Israel will hit the surf to benefit the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, founded by the late Paul Newman, which provides summer-camp experiences and year-round services to children with cancer, sickle cell anemia, HIV and other life-threatening illnesses.

For the Mossman club, this will be the eighth annual plunge. It still is accepting participants and pledges. There is a $50 entry fee for participants, who will gather at the Compo Beach pavilion at 9:45 a.m.

For more information, visit and click on "Events."

The Temple Israel Polar Bear Plunge grew from a dare by one friend to another five years ago. After Tom Patterson accepted Lee Caney's challenge to take a wintertime dive into Long Island Sound, the two men enlisted friends from the synagogue and an annual event was born.

Last year, the group raised money for pancreatic cancer.

People interested in joining the team or pledging can contact Patterson by email at or by phone at 917-653-7384.