Chincoteague Prepares for Annual Pony Swim - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Chincoteague Prepares for Annual Pony Swim

Scene from last year's Chincoteague Pony Swim. (Photo: WBOC) Scene from last year's Chincoteague Pony Swim. (Photo: WBOC)

CHINCOTEAGUE, Va.- Town leaders are busy making preparations for the upcoming 89th annual Chincoteague Pony Swim. At this week's town council meeting, officials discussed in detail their plans for the event, which will be held Wednesday, July 30.

The Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce will distribute detailed information to area hotels and public locations about the pony swim. The information is posted on both the town's and the chamber's websites and will be distributed at the carnival.

According to Town Manager Robert Ritter, crews are conducting a street landscape beautification project. There will be five bus routes and 22 school buses, one of which is handicapped-equipped, will transport the thousands of visitors. Tens of thousands of visitors come to the island to see the Chincoteague ponies make the swim from Assateague to Chincoteague.

Visitors will be transported from area motels, Chincoteague High School and the carnival grounds to the swim site and will return them after the swim. Hundreds of volunteers will guide visitors. Most volunteers come from the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company, EMS, public works and town office staff.

The swim takes place at "slack tide," a period of about 30 minutes between tides, when there is no current. This is the easiest time for the ponies to make the swim. Last year's violent thunderstorm occurred moments before the swim, Ritter said, adding, "We were able to manage the situation under hazardous conditions."

The purpose of the pony swim is to move the ponies from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island so that the foals can be auctioned. The auction will take place on Thursday, July 31.

The auction serves two purposes: first it helps to control the overall size of the herd, keeping it from growing too large. Secondly, the auction is a fundraiser for the Chincoteague VFC. The fire company uses some of the proceeds from the auction to provide veterinary care for the ponies throughout the year. The auction begins at 8 a.m. Auction winners will receive a certificate saying that they purchased a Chincoteague pony from the Chincoteague VFC.

Renovations and cleanup efforts to the downtown area should be finished by this week, in time for Pony Penning, Ritter said.

"The new fishing pier downtown is open, but a formal ribbon cutting will be held after installation of brick pavers between the boardwalk and handicapped ramp is completed," Ritter said. The pier has a price tag of $140,000.

On Friday, Aug. 1, the adult ponies will make the return swim to Assateague Island where they will live in the wild for another year.

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