Half as many take PlungeSaturday was a beautiful day either for polar bears or intrepid jumpers ready to take a plunge into icy cold water for a cause. The jumpers were “Freezin for a Reason.”
By: Toni Pirkl, The Jamestown Sun
Saturday was a beautiful day either for polar bears or intrepid jumpers ready to take a plunge into icy cold water for a cause. The jumpers were “Freezin for a Reason.”
The Third Annual Polar Plunge, or the Dumpster Dive as it was called this year, had about half the number of plungers as last year when the Special Olympics fundraiser was held at Jamestown Reservoir. Apparently, the more diehard polar jumpers didn’t think much of plunging into a Dumpster. Or maybe it was the cold — the temperature hovered around zero when the plunging started in the Applebee’s parking lot.
“I’d guess it was the location, the cold or because it was Valentine’s Day,” said Kevin Arthaud, James River Correctional Center security chief, Law Enforcement Torch Run core leader and Polar Plunge organizer. “I don’t know the exact amount, but I think we raised about $10,000 or half of what we raised last year.”
Regardless of the results, it was fun for spectators and plungers, he said. There were more students from Jamestown College participating in the event, which pleased Arthaud. He has hoped to get them involved more.
“That was good to see,” he said.
The water was much warmer than the air Saturday. The water was a balmy 35 degrees or so. At least it started at that temperature, but volunteers had to keep raking the water to keep it from freezing over. Firefighters Larry Hust and Matt Walsh did double duty as rescue squad, if needed, and maintaining the level of water in the Dumpster with a hose attached to a nearby hydrant.
As is traditional, Arthaud took the first plunge, this year wearing shorts and a tank top. Disparaging comments were made regarding his white legs, he said. He may just have to get a tan before next year’s plunge. He said his costume wasn’t as obvious as some of the others.
“I was dressed like a dork and I think I accomplished that,” he said.
A rather under-sized Santa Claus took the second plunge. Minus the beard and the red suit, it was Kathy Meagher, director of Special Olympics North Dakota. This is the third year Meagher has followed Arthaud into the water.
Nearly 50 plungers climbed the ladder to take the Dumpster dive, although the container was only deep enough for jumping in. Judges included Mayor Clarice Liechty, who said before the plunging started that she had already had to go home to put on another layer of clothes.
“We have some really brave people out here,” Liechty said. “They must really care about Special Olympics.”
This was the third year the Salvation Army was at the event, providing volunteers and plungers with hot chocolate, sloppy joes and nacho cheese. Maj. Tim Miller said it was the Army’s contribution to the fundraiser and to those participating.
“I told people last year they had to jump in the lake to get hot chocolate,” Miller said, laughing. “There were no takers.”
Jeff Wegner, the JRCC staff member in charge of setting up the site, said everything went very well. The city provided a construction-sized trash container, which JRCC volunteers packed snow around to give the illusion it wasn’t a Dumpster.
“It was much easier than doing it at the lake,” Wegner said. “It worked out really, really well.”
So now the JRCC team who set up the Polar Plunge each year can do so in two venues. Wegner, however, didn’t take the plunge.
“I’ve always said I was going to, but I never have,” he said.
Arthaud said he appreciated the people willing to brave the cold, whether they were watching or plunging. Two JRCC plungers dressed as JRCC officers chasing a third JRCC officer, who was dressed as an escaped convict, won the Best Costume award. Jerry Bohnsack, a retired JRCC officer from Wimbledon, N.D., won the Oldest Jumper award. Milia Cotton of Rugby, N.D., won the award for Longest Distance traveled.
Sun reporter Toni Pirkl can be reached at (701) 952-8453 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org