‘Polar Plunge’ numbers down a bit this year

The annual “Polar Plunge” on New Year’s Day here took a bit of a dip itself this year compared to 2005 in terms of turnout and the amount of money raised.
A total of $12,700 was raised this year compared to the $13,400 that “plungers” generated last January. And there were four fewer participants compared to the 46 who took part in 2005.
Still, Jim and Val Martindale, who organized the event on behalf of the local Voyageur Lions Club, said they were happy with how everything turned out.
“We want to thank everybody because it was a great event,” Val Martindale noted. “It keeps getting better and better every year, and the jumping conditions were improved this year.”
The Martindales believe a few factors contributed to the slight decline in participation this year.
“We think maybe some people didn’t know if it was going to happen this year [due to the poor ice conditions on Sand Bay] and maybe we didn’t get enough reassurance out there,” she remarked.
Other factors included the number of “regular jumpers” who happened to be out of town this year, as well as a few people suffering from minor injuries that prevented them from participating.
But those who did participate—most decked out in some sort of costume—were out there braving the cold ready to take the “plunge.”
Money raised will go towards club projects aimed at youth.
The “plunge” also is a fundraiser for other local clubs and groups, with the pledges raised being split between the Voyageur Lions and the respective club.
Aquanaut Jillian Gustafson, 10, spent a week raising $1,344 for her team. And as a reward for raising more than $1,000, she earned a $400 gift certificate from Howarth’s, where she’s looking at buying a Game Boy DS.
But that isn’t what motivated this youngster to get out there and take the “plunge.”
“It makes me feel like I’m going to be helping my team,” Gustafson said. “I love swimming. It’s fun and nice to show people that girls can do anything that boys can do.”
People were out showing their support by watching, clapping, and offering encouragement while the local fire department also was on hand to provide safety support for the jumpers.
Winners for the best costume were Maureen Hahkala (mime), Kasey Hawrylak (grass skirt dancer), and Wallace Bruyere (hockey player). All three received gift certificates from Mark’s Work Wearhouse.
Meanwhile, the Kiwanis skate park group won the prize for best group costume—earning a gift certificate from La Place Rendez-Vous.
Shaw Cable will air the 2006 “Polar Plunge” sometime next week.