The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

February 4, 2013

Polar bears return to GOTL

By MARGIE NETZEL - mnetzel@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

GENEVA-ON-THE-LAKE —  Get ready to get very, very cold.

More than 300 brave souls will buck up and jump in the lake at the 17th annual Polar Bear Plunge on Saturday, event organizer Chandra Brode said.

Participants can register all the way until the beginning of the plunge. All funds are raised for Special Olympics Ohio.

Registration is $100 for adults and $50 for students and includes a long-sleeved T-shirt, a towel and a ticket to the Friday night banquet the Lodge and Conference Center at Geneva-on-the-Lake.

Brode said the plunge and accompanying Harley Davidson raffle are major fundraisers to support year-round sports training and events for athletes with developmental disabilities.

“In our 11th year we were over $1 million raised and this is the 17th year, so I would say after this year we will be close to over $1.5 million raised for Special Olympics Ohio,” she said. “Special Olympics Ohio is funded solely by fundraising events such as polar plunges, plane pulls and golf outings. If these fundraisers didn’t exist, Special Olympics Ohio’s ability to provide these valuable services to the athletes would be greatly hindered.”

In case jumping in the freezing lake just once isn’t crazy enough, the plunge offers a special deal for the especially crazy — super plungers, who pay $888 in registration, jump in the lake once an hour for eight hours.

Brode said at least four people have signed up to take the plunge eight times.

The traditional student plunge has a change in start time due to the ACT tests on the same day. Students from Geneva, Conneaut, Lakeside and Edgewood high schools will jump in at 3 p.m.

Registration opens Friday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Harbor Room at the lodge and re-opens Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“I encourage people to come Friday and pick-up their goodie bag and wristband and avoid the lines on Saturday,” Brode said. “All plungers need to come to registration, even if they pre-registered online. You must have a wristband in order to plunge.”

Registration will not be held at the beach this year.

The lodge is offering a winery tour for plungers on Saturday. Cost is $15 per person.

The Winterfest Party, which is free for plungers and $15 for guests of plungers, will be held Friday night in the lodge ballroom. The doors open at 6:30 p.m., with dinner at 7 p.m. Jeremy James from WREO 97.1 FM will deejay until 1 a.m.

Shuttles will provide transportation from the lodge to Breakwater Beach starting at 1 p.m.

The winner of the 2013 Harley-Davidson FLS Softail Slim in “Ember Red Sunglow” will be announced at 1:30 p.m. The prize includes an enclosed trailer. Tickets are $10 each and are available at Richmond Trailer Sales, The Beverage Depot and DW3’S in Harpersfield Township, The Rainbow Cafe in Conneaut, Grand River Manor in Austinburg Township, The American Legion Post 103, DeeGee’s in Ashtabula, Harassment’s and Hickory Grove Golf Course in Jefferson and Shannon’s Tavern in Hartsgrove Township. Tickets are also available online at www.sooh.org or by calling 993-1201.

The adult plunge will begin at 2 p.m. , where heated tents will be set up for plungers running out of the frigid water.

“We see a lot of return plungers,”Brode said. “Over the years, we have come to know many people from all over the state who return annually. Many of our plungers are local, but a large number of participants are from all over Ohio — as far away as Cincinnati and the other corners of the state.”

But the crazy is catching, Brode said.

“We see a lot of first timers, too,” she said. “We do our best to make the jump as painless as possible, except for the water temperature, of course, which is out of our hands!”

Online registration, a list of plunging tip and tricks, and the agenda for the event are available at www.polarbearplunge.org.