It’s that time of year again to be “freezin’ for a reason,” as preparations for the 17th annual Polar Plunge are now finalized.
Event organizer and founder Sam Simon said he would have never thought that what started out as three people jumping into the Ohio River on New Year’s Day would become a lasting and growing tradition.
According to Simon, attendance has wavered due to weather conditions but each year close to 100 people take to the water, making the plunge. With recent warm temperatures, Simon is hoping that attendance doesn’t decrease.
“The fun-goers, they don’t know any temperature, they’ll jump in no matter what,” said Simon. “Personally, I like it cold, about 15 degrees or so. The spectators like to come and see these people freeze, so the colder the better.”
According to the National Weather Service, temperatures are predicted to be in the upper 40’s on New Year’s Day.
But the event isn’t all fun and games, the plunge also serves as a fundraiser for veterans.
“Over the past few years I had teamed up with Jim Saddler, who is now departed, to help the veterans. Each year there are two parties for rest home veterans, one in the summer and one at Christmas time,” said Simon. “We call it ‘Get Wet for Rest Home Vets,’ but if a group wants to come and jump for their own cause, they’re welcome to do that.”
Donations can be made at the event and will be given to the American Legion.
Simon said each year is different but there are a core group of people that venture down to make the plunge each year.
“About 30 percent of the people are core jumpers, they do it every year. But for a lot of people it’s their first time, some come back and some don’t,” Simon explained.
Participants can gather at The Block House, 1107 Lawson Street in Portsmouth starting around 9:30 a.m.
From the Block House participants will caravan to the Court Street Landing in anticipation of a Noon plunge. Those that do not want to meet at the Block House can meet the group at the river prior to the jump.
Simon said spectators are also welcomed at the event.
For more information about the plunge find them on Facebook, under Polar Bear Plunge Portsmouth, OH.
Reach Ciara Conley at 740-981-6977, Facebook “Ciara Conley - Daily Times,” and Twitter @PDT_Ciara.