Chincoteague Gearing Up for 89th Annual Pony Swim - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Chincoteague Gearing Up for 89th Annual Pony Swim

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CHINCOTEAGUE,Va.- Many people are very excited to see the Saltwater Cowboys herd the ponies from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island tomorrow, and a lot of people have traveled from all over the country to see it.

 Kelli Merchant and her mother, Lisa Sterlace, traveled all the way from New York to see the 89th Annual Pony Swim in Chincoteague. This will be Lisa's third time seeing the ponies in action, and Kelli’s first.

"I feel wonderful. I've missed out on many family vacations,” Merchant said. “It's just really wonderful to be able to come out with family to see what all the hype is about; I've been hearing about it for years."

People like Amanda Baker, who is visiting from Massachusetts, have been coming for years.
It is an event she refuses to miss.
  
"It's great for families. There's just something for everyone, I think,” Baker said. “It's something that everyone can enjoy; kids, adults.

“I mean, I've been doing it 10 plus years now, and I still get a thrill seeing all the things happen.”
 
Between 11 a.m. and 1p.m., an army of 150 ponies will blaze a wet trail across the Assateague Channel. The route is just south of Veterans Memorial Park, where spectators can see the ponies swim.

The Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department holds the event every year. Organizers said the best view can be seen from charter boats, but those spots fill up fast by people who reserved seats months ago. Organizers said spectators can catch the ponies ashore at the end of Pony Swim Lane.
 
Sterlace got a good seat years ago, and said she had quite the sight.

"There was one [pony] in 2011 that decided he was going to break away from the herd. He ran around us and although that was kind of scary, the Saltwater Cowboys herded him back in, and he continued on his merry way,” Sterlace said.

After the swim, ponies will rest for 45 minutes, then head to Main Street for a parade. The ponies will be auctioned off Thursday morning on carnival grounds. Some of the proceeds from the fire department’s fundraiser will benefit a regional charity and help provide veterinary services for ponies throughout the year.

The ponies will swim back to Assateague Island where they will live wild for another year.
   



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