CHINCOTEAGUE, Va.- Thousands of visitors from around the world turned out Wednesday morning to watch dozens of ponies make their 94th annual swim from Assateague Island to Chincoteague.
The famed Saltwater Cowboys rounded up about 110 ponies living on Assateague for the swim, which got underway just before 10 a.m., took place during what is known as “slack tide,” when there is no current. This is the easiest time for the ponies to make the swim across the channel.
The first foal ashore was crowned King (or Queen) Neptune, and will be given away at a raffle on the carnival grounds. The other foals, approximately 60 this year, will be auctioned off Thursday morning to raise money for the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company, which takes care of those ponies. Organizers say the auction helps to cut down on the size of the herd and raises money for veterinary services for the ponies throughout the year.
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 company will roam free for another year on Assateague Island.
The annual spectacle was celebrated by Marguerite Henry’s 1947 novel “Misty of Chincoteague.”
Click here to watch WBOC’s live footage of Wednesday’s pony swim. Following the swim the ponies were paraded down Main Street in Chincoteague. To view WBOC’s live coverage of that event, click here.