PORTSMOUTH — With a year like 2020, many are ready to take the plunge into 2021.
The 20th Annual Portsmouth Polar Plunge will take place January 1, 2021. A parade to the Court Street landing will start at the American Legion Post 23 on Court Street at 11 a.m., with the plunge following at noon. Funds raised this year will benefit the Jim Saddler Fund at the American Legion.
“Sam Simon started it 20 years ago, but it has been for a great cause,” Portsmouth- Scioto County Visitors Bureau, Executive Director, Kim Bauer said. “Some years it has 20 people others it has 70. It just depends.”
Locals wishing to participate in the Portsmouth Polar Plunge are advised to wear masks and shoes and to observe social distancing. Organizers of the event also encourage participants to come in costumes and bring a towel and an extra pair of clothes and shoes.
“It’s the Court Street Landing, which is made of brick. It can get slippery,” Bauer said.
While not as cold as in years past, temperatures are expected to be in the mid-30s, with a strong possibility of rain. Despite the rain, organizers said the event would go on since participants will be getting wet anyway.
“Everyone seems to have a good time and helps each other in the water,” Bauer said. “Several places do it that are much colder, but we have fun here.”
Simon shared he first came up with the idea 20 years ago with just him and a few buddies. At the time, they jumped into the river from Sciotoville, but each year the event has grown.
“It started off with just three, then grew to seven, then 14,” Simon said. “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, organizers will be collecting for the Jim Saddler Fund. 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 known 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 the events were successful. Through funds raised at the event, organizers hope to carry on Saddler’s legacy and work.
Also hoping to raise funds is Portsmouth Councilman Edwin Martell, who on a Facebook Live said he would take the plunge if the 14th Community Center could raise $2,500.
“I’m not ready, but I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help the 14th Street community Center,” Martell said during the Facebook Live.
Donations can be made by visiting https://www.14streetcc.org/make-a-donation.
Reach Adam Black at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1927, or by email at email@example.com.
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