Take a Polar Plunge in Minnesota

February 24, 2012 10 Comments »

Polar plunge
It’s getting hot in here…might as well take the plunge!

America has had a pretty mild winter so far. However, it’s still cold enough to freeze lakes in Minnesota. On my recent trip there, I was able to experience one of the things that makes Minnesotans great – their love of the cold weather. I admire people who live in the Northern US; they have winter for five months of the year, yet they don’t hibernate; they embrace it.  That embrace comes in a multitude of forms, from hockey rinks in backyards to broomball leagues to ice fishing, skiing, and snowmobiling.  They love the winter so much that they even go swimming in the winter via the Polar Plunge.

The Polar Plunge is a fundraising event for the Special Olympics held all over the Northern US, where people raise money for charity and take the ultimate plunge in a frozen lake. I happened to be at White Bear Lake in Minnesota for this year’s event.

I bundled up in my down coat, hat, scarf, fur-lined boots, and mittens and went off to photograph the chilling event. You simply walk out on the ice and watch thousands of people line up to take the ultimate, refreshing dip.

A square is cut in the ice, and it is carefully manned by emergency personnel bundled up in the latest high-tech gear in the water to assist in an emergency. Then people step from the warming tent, line up on the ice, and plunge one by one.  Some approach it with apprehension, some with gusto. Most all use the opportunity to dress up as if it were Halloween. Some of the costumes were outrageous, skimpy, and not very buoyant! Young and old participated, and no one chickened out.

I snapped pictures for an hour and then I couldn’t take it any longer, I had to get inside and warm up with some hot chocolate! So, if you are upset that it’s a mild winter in the US, then check out these pictures, they should give you a chill…after all, it is still winter outside!

super man and woman
This dynamic duo didn’t seem nervous at all pre-plunge
Catch me! This father from Madagascar had his hands full!
A cold wake-up call!  Brrr…
jumping turtles
I’ve never seen jumping turtles before. I wonder if the shell kept them warm?
I think she’s still in shock!
Making a splash!
I think this guy lost his grass skirt!
This is one enthusiastic plunger!
Emergency personnel are floating in freezing water all day – I hope they get overtime pay!
jumping in water
It’s easier to do it with a friend who is dressed exactly like you.
Mission Accomplished! Now…go warm up!

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