Skiers brave cold water to welcome new year Bethel Island's Frozen Bun Run attracted nearly 30 participants for the 23rd annual cold dip
By Jane Ramsey

BETHEL ISLAND, CA - It was a case of the blind leading the sighted on New Year's Day as Harry Cordellos, 66, of Novato slipped into the icy chill of the Delta waters at Boyds Harbor for the 23rd Annual Frozen Bun Run.

Born with glaucoma, Cordellos uses no special equipment to water-ski. There is no special trick to a blind person cutting a wake on a water-ski, he said, other than good safety habits and communication with the ski boat and its driver.

He was one of about 30 water-skiers who swelled the ranks of this island of 2,312 inhabitants to brave the 47-degree waters on Wednesday for the traditional New Year's fest.

From as far as Sacramento and San Carlos they came, paying $10 to ring in the new year at the end of a tow rope in the icy water.

Announcers Pat Kelley and Jack O'Keeffe recalled past years of rain and heavy fog that brought the brave and profane out in heavier numbers than the relatively temperate day Wednesday.

"The worse the weather, the more skiers there are," Kelley said from his perch with O'Keeffe at the Rusty Porthole restaurant.

Hundreds watched the spectacle as Kelley and O'Keeffe did the frozen bun run play-by-play. It is a gig the two have teamed up for since 1989, when O'Keeffe became the sidekick for Kelley, the event's original announcer.

Good-natured, wholesome family fun prevailed despite a few male bare bottoms. Island resident Robyn Krueger drove from San Diego in time to make the bun run and heartily respond to a sign held up by a boatload of onlookers that dared her to flash
her chest.

Still, it was a family event for Barry Rosenbaum of Brentwood, the run's first costumed skier of the day. His wife, Dorothy, daughter Danielle, 5, and her friend, Sydney Wright, 5, of Discovery Bay watched with delight from the deck while balloon-bedecked Barry skied as a "gumball ski machine."

A whimsical triple-header ski team was formed by Nathan Moore, Brian Van Aken and Jack Sutton. The 15-year-olds donned matching yellow ducky pajama pants as the "Duck Squad" before dipping into the drink for the first of their two ski runs.

Also thrilling the crowd was air chair skier Ian Phibbs of Bethel Harbor, who brought the deck crowd to its feet with his high flips into the air.

The largely humorous event was not without a heartfelt moment. A touching note was struck by Moe Alessandro, 12, and his brother, Ross, 15, of Cassel in Shasta County, who participated in honor of their uncle, Brad Coontz of Discovery Bay. Coontz was
killed in a 2002 traffic accident.

This is my 23rd year attending, and what a freeking party! Anyway, I was on a friends Yacht drinking like a fish this year, and after the last skier, we went bar hopping/sight seeing, when I heard a sound that ALWAYS gives me wood (or in this case LUMBER!)... A offshore boat was coming across Franks tract balls to the wall, and I mean this guy kept it hammered so long I just knew he was going to blow the hell out of his motors. The boat was around a 35' Profile named "Offshore Breeze" and I say this guy had it around 7000-7500 RPM wide open for 2-3 miles at close to 100 mph. GOD DAMN that boat hauled ass.... and just caught it turning into a 5 mph zone and the cams in this thing thumped like nothing I have heard for awhile. Sounded like some minor idle surging too, so it may have been Blown.... but, does anyone know this guy or what he is running? It takes alot to impress me, and I am still trying to hide my stiffy after hearing this thing rip across the Happy New Year And no I didn't ski... I'm a *****... heh heh heh