Polar Plunge to continue this 1st

Are you ready to take the plunge into 2023?

Every year, dozens and dozens of locals are, as they join Sam Simon in a jump into the Ohio River for the Annual Polar Plunge event.

This year, the event is on once again, with a 10:30 starting time at the Post 23 Court Street “side door.”

A parade will commence down Court Street, ending at the landing on the river at 11:30 a.m.

The plunge is scheduled for noon and participants are encouraged to wear shoes to avoid sharps found in the river. Participants are also encouraged to dress in costume, bring dry clothes, and a towel.

While not as cold as in years past, with temperatures expected to be in the mid-50’s, there is a strong possibility of rain. Despite the rain, organizers say the event will go on, since participants will be getting wet anyway.

Simon also commented on this year being perfect for the Plunge, due to the weather and water temperatures.

“It is always nice when the water is colder than the air temperature, so when you come back out, you feel that relief,” Simon said. “We had that polar weather recently and the water is going to certainly remind us of that as we jump in but getting back out will be nice.”

In an interview with former Portsmouth Daily Times Editor Adam Black, Simon shared that he first came up with the idea 23 years ago, with just him and a few buddies participating. At the time, they jumped into the river from Sciotoville, but the event grew each year.

“It started off with just three, then grew to seven, then 14,” Simon said to Black. “Eventually, word got around about it, and it moved to Court Street.”

As the Polar Plunge continued to grow, Simon said they looked for causes to support. At the start, Simon said they raised money for several organizations, including the Boy Scouts, Cancer research and organ donation, which is close to Simon, due to a family member who had several organ donations.

“The plunge is free, but I always tell people if they can’t jump in the river, donate your liver,” Simon said. “It’s as easy as checking a box.”

This year, Simon hopes to bring awareness to organ donation, while raising cash donations to the Sons of the American Legion.

The Plunge is always a time for Simon and others to catch up with friends, some of which have been taking the dive for many years with him and he only sees during the event. Simon says the event is a great way to also make new friends, meet new people, and form bonds over the chilly river water. In some cases, old friends are no longer around to jump in, so Simon says it is a nice time to take a moment to remember them.

Whether it is on a dare, a sense of responsibility like Simon, a shot at camaraderie, or any other driving factor, Simon hopes to see many new and old faces out in the waters this first of the year to take the Portsmouth Polar Plunge.

Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved