By RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY
PDT Staff Writer
New Year’s Day is quickly approaching and the Portsmouth Polar Bear Society is making plans for its annual Polar Plunge into the Ohio River to raise money for local charities.
The tradition started only casually in 2000 when Sam Simon and a couple of his friends playfully jumped into the Ohio River next to his home near Sciotoville. After that it became a tradition and grew even larger when they moved their activity to Portsmouth in 2004. Last year, dozens of brave divers took the plunge on New Year’s Day to help raise money for Southern Ohio Medical Center Hospice.
“In our biggest year, I counted 92 people,” Simon said.
Participants of this year’s plunge will begin gathering at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012, at the Portsmouth Brewing Company (“Brew Pub”) on Second Street. There will be lots of fun and festivities until the group starts out the door at 11:30 a.m. to begin their caravan parade to the river, carried by the American Legion Post 23 and the 40/8. The parade will leave the Brew Pub headed for Washington Street, then cross to Chillicothe Street and go south past the floodwall toward the river. When the clock hits noon, everyone rushes into the Ohio River.
Divers are strongly advised to wear shoes in the water.
After their icy plunge, participants are invited back the Brew Pub for more food specials and celebration.
Everyone jumping into the river is invited to use this opportunity to raise money for their favorite local charity. Divers Sam Simon and Don Andre will be raising money for SOMC Hospice. Andre, of West Portsmouth, is a retired corrections officer from the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville and he will be joined this year by at least 10 officers from the prison, and several more from the Lewis County, Ky., Jail.
“I like it. It’s cold, but it’s worth it for what we’re doing. We collected over $1,000 from the prison for Hospice last year,” Andre said.
Simon will also donate some of the money he’s collected from this year’s plunge to Scioto County Veterans.
For more information about the Portsmouth Polar Plunge, or to make a donation, call Andre at 740-285-8465.
RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 235, or email@example.com.