County Fare: Polar Plunge day of fun, fundraising


An estimated 200 volunteers took a bone-chilling dip into Onota Lake in Pittsfield over the weekend to benefit Special Olympics Massachusetts.

The second annual Pittsfield Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) Polar Plunge and Chili/Chowderfest was held on Saturday at the Controy Pavilion in Burbank Park, as part of year-round local law enforcement efforts to support Special Olympics competitions. Folks of all ages took the plunge in everything from Speedo shorts and swimsuits to superhero costumes and other creative garb.

Pittsfield Police Officer Darren Derby, who co-coordinated the event with Detective John Bassi, posted on a Facebook page for the event that participants and donors raised $53,000 for the cause.

Derby said that in the last two months, local officers from multiple county agencies that included the Berkshire County Sheriff’s Office; Pittsfield, Hinsdale, Peru, Cheshire and Sheffield police departments; and members of area Massachusetts State Police barracks have raised a combined total of $106,000 through two events.

Saturday’s Polar Plunge also included food, live music, games and entertainment, all donated through community businesses and individuals.

"We have something special here that no other county in MA has, yet," Derby posted.

The next LETR Berkshire benefit for Special Olympics will be the second annual "Midnight 5K Run from the Cops" which will be held in July on a date to be announced. Last year’s Run from the Cops event drew 327 "suspects."

To learn more about Berkshire LETR events and to see photos from the Polar Plunge, visit Learn more about the national Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics program here:


"Freeheld," the 2007 Oscar-winning documentary short by South Egremont film-maker Cynthia Wade, will be made into a feature film. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Julianne Moore will star as the terminally ill New Jersey police officer Laurel Hester, who was prevented by the government from assigning her pension benefits to her domestic partner Stacie Andree (to be played by Ellen Page). Zach Galifianakis is also on board to play the supporting role of Garden State Equality activist Steven Goldstein. Peter Sullett ("Nick & Nora’s Infinite Playlist") will direct. Filming is expected to start this summer.

On Sunday at 10:30 a.m., the Berkshire International Film Festival, in partnership with DOVE, will screen Wade’s new documentary short "Selfie" at the Triplex Cinema in Great Barrington. Wade will be in attendance along with some of the women in the film. It will be followed by a brunch at Castle Street Cafe.

According to a press release, "Selfie" is about the journey of multiple generations of girls and their mothers in the Berkshires as they create a new type of selfie that celebrates their unique beauty. "The way women are defining beauty today is changing dramatically, and social media has much to do with the change," said Wade. "Now we have the ability to photograph the beauty we see in our friends and ourselves. When we share these diverse images on our social networks, we are taking personal ownership and truly redefining beauty."

In January of 2013, Wade’s documentary short "Monday’s at Racine" was nominated for an Oscar. It told the story of a Long Island salon that periodically closes its doors to the public so women who lost their hair through chemotherapy can receive free beauty services.

County Fare, a weekly column featuring "tales from throughout the Berkshires," is compiled by Eagle staffers.


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