Piers Park Sailing Center, Harborkeepers Take Part in Annual Shamrock Splash Fundraiser

With the annual Save the Harbor/Save the Bay’s Shamrock Splash going virtual this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic Piers Park Sailing Center and the Harborkeepers teamed up for the annual fundraiser. 

Instead of celebrating for just one day on the beach in South Boston, this year’s Shamrock Splash was a two-week virtual party–giving fundraising teams the opportunity to splash wherever they were.

On Sunday the Sailing Center and Harborkeepers, each with a team of eight ‘Splashers”, jumped into the icy water off Constitution Beach to raise money for summer programs in Eastie. The money raised will go towards funding Save the Harbor/Save the Bays’ Better Beaches grant program. 

The two teams were able to raise nearly $5,000 for beach programs. 

“Save the Harbor/Save the Bay is one of Piers Park Sailing Center’s most valued partners.  When it comes to making Boston’s beaches welcoming and accessible to everyone they are a true champion,” said Piers Park Sailing Center Executive Director Alex DeFronzo. “Through their advocacy and the great work that they do with the Metropolitan Beaches Commission and the DCR we have been able to work together to activate beaches and the harbor for East Boston youth and families.  Our partnership with Save the Harbor created PPSC’s Harbor Explorers program for 6- to 9-year-old youth 15 years ago and will continue in 2021. The Shamrock Splash helps raise funds for the Better Beaches Program and awareness about our metropolitan beaches.”

DeFronzo said the Splash was a nice 10 second shock to the system. 

“I dove in but ran the heck out fast haha,” he said. 

Harborkeepers Founder and Executive Director, Magdalena Ayed said the first time she ever went out on Boston Harbor was during an elementary school field trip for her children hosted by Bruce Berman of Save the Harbor/Save the Bay. 

“We went on a commercial fishing boat,” said Ayed. “It was awesome and I have loved the harbor ever since.  Piers Park Sailing Center has been participating in the Shamrock Splash for the last several years and while doing a smaller, socially-distanced splash was fun, we are looking forward to returning to the huge splash with hundreds of people at the Curley Community Center in Southie next year.”

Secretary for Harborkeepers, Celeste Ribeiro-Hewitt, who made the splash with the rest of the team said the Harborkeepers were thrilled to participate in this year’s Shamrock Splash to raise money for the Better Beaches Program. 

“Given our mission to foster coastal stewardship, it was a perfect way for Team Harborkeepers to set an example of what local beach stewardship looks like, by plunging in the clean and accessible Constitution Beach harbor,” she said. “Given the restrictions of the past year, jumping in the frigid Boston Harbor waters was like an invigorating reset button that reinforced the importance of continuing to work together on joint coastal stewardship work.”

Ribeiro-Hewitt added that although she has participated in previous Splashes with Save the Harbor/Save the Bay this first time partnership team was a real tangible way for board members to illustrate the benefits of “accessibility to, and care of, our harbor”.  

“As residents in a coastal community we may take for granted that our beaches are there or conversely, may be overwhelmed by the awesome job it is to maintain them and our environment,” she said. “We hope this was a fun way for folks to see the benefit.of the work we do and maybe stoked a little bit of interest in getting more involved. On a personal note, after a year of zooming with fellow board members, this was a great way to come together in person and really shake things up.”

Since Save the Harbor/Save the Bay began the Splash during their 25th Anniversary celebration in 2011, thousands of splashers have raised more than $1 million dollars to support free beach events and programs in East Boston, Lynn, Nahant, Revere, Winthrop, South Boston, Dorchester, Quincy and Hull.

“Last year’s Splash raised nearly $50,000 to support free beach events and our Better Beaches program partnership with DCR,” said Save the Harbor/Save the Bay’s Executive Director Chris Mancini. “It was also the last public event we hosted in 2020, before the pandemic forced us and our community partners to move most of our free programs online. We are optimistic that if people continue to wear masks, practice social distancing, and sign up for their free vaccinations as they become available, the region’s residents from Nahant to Nantasket will be able to return to our beaches again this summer, and free beach events and youth programs will be more important than ever before. In the meantime, we have to celebrate clean water together – apart.”

The annual event is sponsored by Harpoon Brewery, JetBlue, Mix 104.1, The Blue Sky Collaborative, The Boston Foundation, The Richard Saltonstall Charitable Foundation, Beacon Capital Partners, P&G Gillette, National Grid, the Daily Catch, and Comcast.

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