For the City Times
Submitted by Deb Cleworth
Annual Polar Plunge set for Feb. 2, 3
BIRON – As some central Wisconsin residents ponder the oft-asked winter question – “Why do I live in Wisconsin?” almost 300 people are preparing to plunge into the icy Wisconsin River in February.
The annual Special Olympics Wisconsin Polar Plunge presented by Trantow Consulting Inc., is set for Feb. 2 and 3 at Anchor Bay Bar and Grill in Biron, 3460 N. Biron Drive. The Wisconsin Rapids event is the first of 12 plunges scheduled throughout state. Since 1999, plunge events have raised nearly $19 million for Special Olympics Wisconsin athletes, according to the Special Olympics Wisconsin website. This year, with almost 3,000 plungers registered throughout the state, Special Olympics Wisconsin has a $900,000 fundraising goal.
Proceeds from all events go to benefit the more than 10,000 Special Olympics Wisconsin athletes, including athletes in the Wisconsin Rapids area. In addition to 18 different Olympic-type sports offered year-round, including National and World Games, donations help provide free health care screenings to ensure optimal health and performance to athletes during competition. The average cost to support an athlete year-round is $552, according to the Special Olympics Wisconsin website.
“Wisconsin Rapids and Wausau are both such wonderful communities where support for our athletes and events is always through the roof,” said Jordan Becker, Director of Special Events for the region. “The Polar Plunge is a perfect avenue to show that support, and it truly has something for everyone!”
Despite the chill of low-temp waters, participation – and donations – have increased during the last few years. Seventy-three people participated in 2016, and, in 2017, 233 people plunged, with $82,000 raised at the event. Local, “celebrity” judges will be on hand to judge the plungers in a variety of fun categories.
Spectators are encouraged to come out and watch the “School Plunge” beginning at 12:30 p.m. on Feb. 2. Hannah Ashbeck, Miss Wisconsin Rapids 2018 will plunge, followed by Project Search students and Lincoln High School.
Come back Feb. 3 to enjoy more events at the Anchor Bay site. Saturday events also include a plunge tailgate, live music from BoomBoxx, a chicken wing eating challenge, and new this year to the Wisconsin Rapids event, a Snowshoe Walk/Run, presented by Ho-Chunk Gaming-Nekoosa, according to Becker.
“Our planning committee is very excited for this year’s snowshoe walk/run,” Becker said. “The snowshoe walk is a one-mile long course throughout the woods behind Anchor Bay. The course will even have a hot chocolate stop along the way.”
Plunges start at noon Saturday and local, “celebrity” judges will be on hand to judge the Saturday plungers in a variety of fun categories.
There is no charge for spectators, and shuttle busses will be available to transport spectators to and from their vehicles, as no parking will be allowed at the plunge site.
“The Polar Plunge features something for everyone,” Becker said. “You can plunge, watch, snowshoe or hang out with the entertainment in our heated tent.”
To pledge a plunger, volunteer, register for the plunge or snowshoe event, go to polarplungewi.org.
If you go:
12:30 p.m. Plunges from Hannah Ashbeck Miss Wisconsin Rapids 2018, Project Search, and Lincoln High School
3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. – Early Check-in for Saturday plungers
9 a.m. – Snowshoe walk/run check-in
10 a.m. – Plunge Check-in
10 a.m. – Snowshoe Walk/Run Begins (Mile-long trail, Special Olympics will not be including snowshoes)
10:30 a.m. – Plunge Tailgate
10:30-11:45 a.m. – Photo opportunities with Chilly Bear and Miss Wisconsin Rapids Area 2018
Noon – Plunging and live music by Boomboxx
1 p.m. – Chicken Wing Challenge
2 p.m. – 50/50 Raffle Announced