By STACY MILLBERG - For the Star Beacon
ROAMING SHORES —
Mother Nature could not have produced a more perfect March afternoon to set the scene for the Roaming Shores Polar Bear Club’s annual Polar Bear Plunge Saturday.
As temperatures reached an uncharacteristic 51 degrees, about 75 people jumped into a frigid Lake Roaming Rock, all to raise money for several local groups.
“It’s exhilarating, I love it,” said Chris Plickert as he came out of the water.
Plickert, one of the Polar Bear Club’s officers, is one of the original founders of the event.
The event was born after Plickert and Jeff Meddock participated in the Special Olympics Polar Bear Plunge held in Geneva every year. Plickert and Meddock decided to start an event in Roaming Shores that would benefit local students. Meddock, who was a resident of Roaming Shores and member of the Polar Bear Club for a few years, died back in 2008. After Meddock’s death, the club began donating a portion of its event proceeds to the memorial scholarship fund in Meddock’s name, said Shawn Morris, club president.
Saturday marked the eighth year for the event. Participation was down a little bit this year, but the club still managed to raise more than $5,500 that will be distributed among several local charities. Recipients of this year’s proceeds include the Jeff Meddock Memorial Scholarship Fund, Jefferson Area Schools Falcon Academic Boosters, the Breakfast with Santa event the club hosts each year, the Conversation Station in Orwell, and Grand Valley Schools.
Crews cleared the ice from the lake on Thursday and then cleared the parts that refroze before the event, Morris said.
“It’s nice to have ice on the water,” he said. “It makes if feel like a real polar bear plunge. Last year the lake wasn’t frozen.”
Morris described his experience as “pleasant until it becomes shocking.”
Roaming Shores resident Christopher Lisac is no stranger to the plunge and keeps participating to raise money for the local charities.
“This is the third time I have done it,” he said. “It’s for a good purpose.”
Lisac described the water as “numbing.”
“It’s not bad once you get out,” he said.
Each participant received a T-shirt with the event sponsors listed on it.
“There’s a lot of business sponsors that help make this possible,” Morris said.
Sponsors for this year’s event include Posh Plumbing; Rock Point Marina; Hooks Towing; Cantini’s Market; Smolic Tire; Route 20 Auto Essentials; Perma-Gro Landscaping; Orwell Dairy Queen; C&L Lawn Service; Ray Chiropractic; Crandall Connection; Andover Sparkle; Colebrook Lounge; The Bar at Rock Creek Country Store; Paradise Bay; Hunter’s Inn; Auburn Fence; NEO Electrical Supplu and Lighting; Chicago Title; Spin’N DJ Services; FASCO Machine Products; and D&S Automotive.
The Ashtabula County Water Rescue Team was also on hand as well as fire and emergency medical personnel, to maintain a safe environment for the event.
“It was a very successful day,” Morris said.