Polar Plunge Takes New Look in 2021

DULUTH, Minn.– It’s a cold and wet day here on the shores of Lake Superior, which means it’s a perfect day to get cold and wet.

20th annual Polar Bear Plunge took place at the Park Point Recreation Area, raising more than $90,000 for Special Olympics Minnesota.

“We weren’t sure if we were going to pull it off but we were able to put together all of the safety guideline requirements,” said Mike Thamm, Co-Coordinator of the plunge.

Participants went in spaced out shifts before making their way into the water. The pandemic pushed the date into March. So with no ice, plungers became runners going head first into the chilly waters. With St. Louis County rescue crews on hand.

“We’re having them run out, touch the big banana and come back,” said Thamm.

Local law enforcement got the go ahead back around Christmas to put the event on, normally happening earlier in winter. No matter how delayed, organizers say it’s important to continue the tradition, and the support for Special Olympics.

“We’ve been doing this for 20 years and there is a lot of people that have been plunging every one of those years,” said Thamm. “Special Olympics programs have been in limbo just like everything else has but they’re starting to get back underway again.”

More than 400 plungers from all parts of the northland showed their support. Including a group of first year students from UW-Superior, jumping for the first time together Saturday.

“All of our families looked at us like we’re crazy of course but we’re like ‘hey why not let’s try this together,'” said Taylor Stanaway. “the water was really cold when you first get in but when you keep going it’s just like rejuvenating pretty much and you’re just like yes it’s not that bad, it’s not that cold.”

11 members of the twin ports rotary club jumped in for the third year in a row, raising more 600 dollars total. The pandemic took away some of their other community service opportunities, so the great cause and cold water called to them.

“So this is the first year I’ve done it where there wasn’t ice, which is sort of a change cause previously you jump off a dock which is a lot easier and swim to shore. Now you have to run in which requires a little more willpower,” said Jake Barnes of Twin Ports Rotary. “It’s more fun now, but 5 minutes ago i wasn’t that excited to do this.”

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