SANDWICH – “When I got here, I thought why aren’t there more adults jumping off,” said Chris Gagne, 35, dripping wet and standing on the Sandwich Boardwalk. “This is what you’re supposed to do.”
On Monday’s hot and sunny summer afternoon, Gagne picked his daughter Kayli, 8, up from her second to last day of the school year. “I had her bathing suit in the car. I said, ‘Let’s go jump off the boardwalk,” said Gagne.
“I said, ‘Yay!’,” recalled Kayli, raising her hand in the air in a re-enactment of her excitement.
Jumping off of the Sandwich Boardwalk was described in almost ceremonial terms by Gagne, 35, as well as his eight-year-old daughter and a group of teenagers – all very engaged in that summer custom.
“It’s like a tradition,” Kate Towey, 15, of Sandwich said. “Everyone has jumped off. Well, my first time I was pushed.”
Gagne, who lives in Mattapoisett but grew up in Marstons Mills, said, “This is a rite of passage growing up on Cape Cod. When you jump off the Sandwich boardwalk, you become a Cape Codder.”
Christina O’Neil, 14, of Sandwich, said it was her first day out of school, so it seemed like a natural thing to do.
Veronica Guillemette, 14, of Sandwich, said she has jumped off plenty of times.
Katherine Spade, 16, of Sandwich said, “I was dragged here.” She had not yet jumped. “I was hoping it would be low tide so I wouldn’t have to jump.” She looked at the water and said, “I guess I have to jump.”
Hannah Fieldings, 15, explained it simply, “It’s hot out. I wanted to go swimming.”
Gagne seemed to savor the heat as he described visiting here during last winter’s big blizzard. “It was a frozen
tundra out here,” he said. Gagne, who runs a radio program called Dancing In The Dunes on WKKL 90.7, said, “As a child, my mom and dad used to bring us down here. “This spot right here is a place I come just to find peace,” he said.
And then he jumped in the water.
Jumping off the boardwalk into the water is great, said Kayli. “I like being in the air and then it feels like jello when you hit the water.”
Amanda Nardini, 14, of Sandwich, said it was her first time jumping off the boardwalk. “It was scary before I jumped in,” she said.
Young Kayli, in a moment of zen, explained the correct approach to jumping off the boardwalk and into the water. “If I was thinking about it, I’d be terrified to do it. I just don’t think about it,” she said.
— Brian Tarcy