Polar Pig looks to make a splashFor the third time, volunteers in the annual Polar Pig will walk the plank for hospice. The Polar Pig “Big Splash” is set for12:30 p.m. Jan. 31 and features the one-eyed pirates of the Harley Owners Group teaming up area businesses and organizations at Stutsman Harley Davidson to raise funds for the Jamestown Hospital Hospice Program. Last year, the event raised nearly $8,200 for the program and this year Polar Pig organizer Don Wegner is hoping to get that number even higher this year. It’s a very worthy cause.
By: By Toni Pirkl, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
For the third time, volunteers in the annual Polar Pig will walk the plank for hospice.
The Polar Pig “Big Splash” is set for12:30 p.m. Jan. 31 and features the one-eyed pirates of the Harley Owners Group teaming up area businesses and organizations at Stutsman Harley Davidson to raise funds for the Jamestown Hospital Hospice Program. Last year, the event raised nearly $8,200 for the program and this year Polar Pig organizer Don Wegner is hoping to get that number even higher this year. It’s a very worthy cause.
“Hospice serves a lot of our friends and families,” he said. “They help the terminally ill and they always need money to cover the costs of the program.”
What is the Polar Pig? Wegner said the “pig” part comes from Harley Owners Group or HOG. The Big Splash and walking the plank refer to the pirate theme and jumping into a large vat of water outside Stutsman Harley Davidson. Jumpers wear a variety of costumes, from pirate to pig, or just wear swimsuits. The water is heated to 80 degrees, the outside air isn’t. The first year the temperature was 20 degrees below zero.
Last year the weather was warmer for the dozen plank walkers. Wegner said he thought 20 would take the plunge. He wonders if the no-shows chickened out, as they did send in the money they’d raised. Wegner scoffs at the idea the weather is a problem.
“You’re so pumped up, you don’t really feel the cold,” he said. As the pirate Capt. Jack, he emcees the event and takes the last jump. “Everyone has a good time. They all know someone who needed hospice.”
This year he has a dozen jumpers lined up already and he’s working on some others. Generally, the one who walks the plank is the designated jumper for the team — a business or organization — someone who carries the weight of pledges and donations.
“We try to get a little competition going between businesses, but anybody can show up and jump,” Wegner said.
The entry fee used to be $100, but Wegner said if someone only has $20 and wants to jump that’s OK with him. This is a fundraiser, he said, so whether it’s $20 or pledges of hundreds of dollars, it will be welcome.
“There’s no minimum this year,” he said.
Collecting its contribution to the Big Splash, Jamestown Hospital has been working on fundraisers involving employees, said Jan Barnes, director of the hospital foundation. The past two years, T-shirts were given to employees who donated in the competition with Unison Bank to raise the most. This year, hospital employees Bonnie Dewald and Michelle Protextor are planning four events to raise the challenge funds.
“But at this point we’re still pleading for someone to do the jump,” Barnes said.
This is a major fundraiser for hospice, second only to the foundation’s community appeal in May, Barnes said. The Big Splash is also an entertaining way to raise the much needed funding.
“Each year it seems to be more fun — more creative, with more people,” she said. “We had a lot more people at the event last year. It keeps growing, which makes it even more fun.”
Wegner estimates there were between 100 and 200 people, spectators and jumpers. And, food is an important part of the enjoyment. A chili cook-off, sponsored by District 7 and 8 ABATE is on the schedule again, starting at 10:30 a.m. Last year, the cook-off offered participants and spectators a taste of 24 pots of chili for $5. Then they voted on their favorite. Wegner didn’t think anyone actually sampled all 24. It would have been a lot of chili to eat, he said. But as he jumps last, he doesn’t get much of a chance to find out. Last year, the chili was pretty much gone by the time he was dried off and dressed.
Prizes are given for the best chili, the wildest costumes, the best splash and best team spirit.
Anyone interested in walking the plank or volunteering someone else, can call Wegner at 320-7866. Those wanting to try their skill at the chili cook-off can get more information from George Quigley at 320-5355.
Sun reporter Toni Pirkl can be reached at (701) 952-8453 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org