The start of the new year means different things for different people. For roughly 30 people part of their new year celebration, meant plunging into the Ohio River, for the 18 annual Jim Saddler Memorial Plunge.
Event organizer and participant Sam Simon started the event several years with some friends at his house.
“This (annual plunge) have evolved and now we are giving money to the local rest home veterans, to carry on Jim Saddlers tradition,” Simon said.
For a number of years local icon Jim Saddler, gathered support for the event by encouraging people to participate or watch from the banks of the river.
Saddler was also know throughout the community for his support of local veterans. Every year Saddler helped to organize a veteran’s Christmas party and a summer cookout. Saddler’s passion helped ensure these events were successful.
A few years ago Saddler passed away, but his legacy continues through the continuation of the Christmas party and summer cook out.
Simon asks those taking the plunge to raise money or make a donation to those efforts. Simon also named the annual plunge after Saddler because of his unwavering support year after year.
“We want to (help) carry on Jim Saddler’s tradition,” Simon said.
He said having the Christmas party and the summer event allows local veterans to have a day of fun.
What is becoming a new tradition associated with the plunge is the naming of a Polar Bear Queen, this year Braelyn Daniel. She is eight years old and attends Wheelersburg Elementary.
When asked what it was like jumping in the water she said, “freezing.”
She said this was her first year and already wants to come back next year to do it again.
Also among this year’s jumpers was Stan Brewer, of Portsmouth, who has participated in the annual plunge for 13 years.
When asked why he keeps coming back to participate he said, “there’s always a good cause for donations and it’s a major rush, a special kind of crazy.”
Brewer said participating in the event has become tradition for him and he plans on doing it again next year.
Danielle and Andrew Simon said the event is a family tradition.
When asked what motivates them to participate Danielle said, “uncle Sammy (Simon, founder of the event).”
Andrew said he’s been participating in the event for the last 12 or 13 years and it’s something they try not to miss.
For more information about the annual event visit the Polar Plunge Portsmouth, OH Facebook page.