{February 20, 2013}   *#%! The Water’s Cold!

Polar Bear, Polar Bear, what do you hear? I hear crazy people swearing near me.

Author Bill Martin Jr. and illustrator Eric Carle might not appreciate my take on their children’s book, but that’s how I’d describe the scene at the Polar Plunge in Muskego, Wisconsin on Feb. 10.

With temps in the mid-30s and a cold rain falling, nearly 200 people hopped, leaped, flipped, cannon-balled or jumped through a hole cut in the ice of the pond at Muskego Park to brave the icy waters below. They were “Freezin’ for a Reason.” The plunge raised about $90,000 for Special Olympics and is one of many similar events held throughout the state.

Since these folks were crazy enough to plunge into the frigid pond voluntarily, it wasn’t a surprise to see them dressed in wild costumes, including Elvis, chickens, nerds, aliens, caped super-heroes and other outlandish characters. Many teams wore matching T-shirts or swim trunks and several individuals sported teeny bikinis or skimpy Speedos.

I joined a team sponsored by Alpine Lanes  (a fun place to bowl and fabulous pizza!) We wore T-shirts emblazoned with our team name, the “Ice Holes,” then personalized our individual outfits with accessories like sparkly tutus, kiddie inner tubes, lei, crazy hats, fur headbands and a Darth Vader helmet.

After registering, our team waited for our assigned plunge time in a huge heated tent that included concessions and a band to get us warmed up. As the time neared, we headed to smaller tents closer to the pond to stow our towels and dry clothes.

All the laughing, dancing and shared goofiness of the previous few hours could no longer distract me from what we were about to do. If you read about our family outing to the Cool Fool Kite Festival on New Year’s Day, you know I don’t like the cold. So jumping into ice water is way outside my comfort zone. In fact, I dreaded it. (Worse yet, I couldn’t whine about it, since I’d convinced two lovely friends to do this with me.)

Our team had too many members to jump at the same moment, so we broke into groups. Jen, Lisa, Leah and I made up the first group, held hands and jumped on the count of 3. Lisa and Leah kept their heads above water while Jen and I went all the way under. Yikes!

Maybe it was just the people on our team, but the first words to be spoken after hitting the water were, I’m sorry to say, profanity-laced exclamations. “Oh, &#%!” “*@$%! That’s cold!” “Holy #*$&!”

Before my body had time to register the cold, I was ushered to a ladder and out of the water to make way for the next group. I don’t think we were in for 30 seconds. Dripping and shivering, we hurried to nearby hot tubs to soak off the chill, then headed back to the tents to dry and change.

Truthfully, plunging wasn’t as bad as I expected. It was cold, but quick. And the dip in the hot tub warmed me back up in no time.

Best of all, our team raised about $1,500 for Special Olympics and we had a lot of fun doing it. Would I do it again? Maybe. But I’ll insist that you join me.


tina says:

Ha! Love this title, and anyone who jumps in a freezy-cold lake mid-winter and doesn’t expletive their brains out cannot be considered normal. Never thought about all this and thank you for sharing the fun, as this will be the closest I get to shriveled ice-speedos.

LOL! Trust me, Tina, that is as close as you want to get to shriveled Speedos! I should’ve quizzed the firefighters who were helping plungers out of the water to find out the most common thing people say after surfacing from the icy water. I can’t imagine it was “golly gee whiz” or “gosh!”

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