Crowds Turn Out for Annual Pony Swim - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Crowds Turn Out for Annual Pony Swim

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CHINCOTEAGUE, Va. (AP/WBOC) - Tens of thousands of visitors watched dozens of ponies make their 88th swim from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Wednesday.

The so-called Saltwater Cowboys rounded up approximately 150 ponies living on Assateague for the swim, which went on in spite of a storm forming off of Virginia's coast.

The first foal ashore was crowned "King Neptune," and given away at a raffle on the carnival grounds.

The other foals are auctioned off Thursday, beginning at 8 a.m.,  to raise money for the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company.  The fire company takes care of those ponies.  Organizers say the auction also helps control the size of the herd.

Last year, auctioning off 67 ponies raised nearly $97,000: The highest bid was $7,000 and the lowest, $400. 

Auction winners receive a certificate saying they have purchased an official Chincoteague pony.

Ponies that go unsold and those that are donated back to the fire department will roam free for another year on the national wildlife refuge on Assateague.

The spectacle celebrated by Marguerite Henry's 1947 novel "Misty of Chincoteague."

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