Fairfield Ledger

Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 17, 2017

Polar Plunge proceeds supporting new pool, gym

By DIANE VANCE, Ledger staff writer | Jan 17, 2013
Photo by: JULIE JOHNSTON/Ledger archive photo The Mafia Girls run into Bonnifield Lake at Waterworks Park during the 2012 Polar Plunge. This year’s plunge, organized by the Fairfield Park and Recreation Department, is set for Feb. 9, with Feb. 1 as the preregistration deadline to receive a T-shirt and be eligible for prizes. Participants pay an entry fee and collect donations from supporters. The money will go toward the new outdoor pool at O.B. Nelson Park and a new community gym near the Roosevelt Community Recreation Center.

The ninth annual Polar Plunge at Waterworks Park is Feb. 9, with a Feb. 1, preregistration deadline to receive a long T-shirt and be eligible for prizes.

Fairfield Park and Recreation Department’s “unbearable” event is a fundraiser — participants collect pledge money prior to the plunge. Donations and pledges this year will go toward the community project to build a new outdoor pool at O.B. Nelson Park and a new community gym near the Roosevelt Community Recreation Center.

Registration/check-in the day of the plunge begins at 10:30 a.m. at Waterworks Park. The plunge begins promptly at 11 a.m.

Registration forms are available at the recreation center and online at its website, www.fairfieldparksandrec.com; scroll down the home page to Forms & Information on the right side; the Polar Plunge is about the seventh item down. The form can be downloaded, filled out and returned before the event by mail or in person at the recreation center. A $30 entry fee per person is requested with registration.

Participants should begin collecting monetary pledges as soon as possible.

Preregistration by the Feb. 1 deadline automatically provides each participant with a Polar Plunge T-shirt and eligibility for prizes.

Prizes will be awarded to the top three fundraisers and for the top costume.

Those prizes are:

• First place – Family combo pass to the rec center and $50 Chamber Bucks.

• Second place — Choice of individual Fitness or Pool Pass and $50 Chamber Bucks.

• Third place — Pool punch card and $50 Chamber Bucks.

Costumes are not required, but many participants are creative with what to wear at Fairfield’s Freezin’ For a Reason Polar Plunge. Togas, jail stripes, bikinis, furry dog suits, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Scooby-Doo gang, mafia girls, sharks, candy conversation hearts as well as T-shirts and shorts have all been seen on participants as they frolicked on the beach and jumped in the water. Anything but wet suits are allowed.

The rules require shoes.

Plunge participants must be 18 years old and up.

Groups or teams can plunge together if the team checks in as a team during the 10:30 a.m. Feb. 9 on-site registration at the beach.

The winter event has grown throughout the years, drawing more participants and usually increasing amounts of pledges.

Last February, 52 people jumped into the icy waters.

“That sounds like one of the largest groups we’ve had,” said Derik Wulfekule, director of park and rec. “I can’t say for certain off the top of my head if it is the most people in the past eight years.”

The weeks leading up to last year’s plunge experienced mild winter weather, and it looked as if no ice would need to be broken on Bonnifield Lake for the plunge. A cold snap right before the designated Saturday changed all that, and the heavy equipment was brought out to chop a beach-access plunging hole in the lake, allowing participants to run into the icy waters to about thigh-depth.

“It was terribly cold,” said Wulfekule about last year, his fifth annual plunge.

“Yes, I’ll be taking the plunge again this year. I’m crazy!” he said. “It gets harder each year, not easier. It’s more a mental challenge than physical.”

He likes plunging with a team from a local radio station which drums up costumes to wear as a team. Each year, the costumes are kept a secret.

“I’ve heard people have been ice-fishing on the lake already this year,” said Wulfekule. “I look forward to the polar plunge and invite anyone [over 18] to participate. We can’t guarantee the weather!”

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