It’s “Freezin’ for a Reason,” the 6th annual Polar Plunge into Big Bear Lake. Brazen swimmers have a “License to Chill” as they run, walk or dance into water temperatures dipping into the 30’s at Veteran’s Park to raise money for Inland Empire Region’s Special Olympics of Southern California. Big Bear’s event has become one of the region’s largest and most popular, last year attracting hundreds of plungers who raised over $100,000.
Plungers decide how deep into the water to go and how long to stay in; some got only their ankles wet while others swim around till lifeguards make them get out of the water. Portable hot spas apres plunge help ward off the chill.
Participants pay for the privilege, with those raising at least $50 in pledges from family, friends and coworkers receiving an official Polar Plunge longsleeve T-shirt, goody bag and lunch. Along with 2-for-1 lift ticket at Snow Summit and Bear Mountain and free admission to the Pre-Plunge Party at The Cave Big Bear featuring awesome Kiss tribute band on March 3.
Raise more than $50 and there’s additional cool prizes like towels, hoodies, duffle bags with tumbler and solar backpack. Special Olympics supporters who prefer to stay out of the water can stay in the “chicken coop” for $50 in pledges and receive a “I’m Too Chicken to Plunge” T-shirt along with the other goodies.
Be sure to bring cameras along for photos and video to prove you really jumped in the lake during winter months. Costumes are a staple at Polar Plunge events, almost like Halloween, and awards are given for the best, judged by creativity and how wacky they are.
“All it takes is a few seconds in the chilly water for plungers to discover why we refer to it as `Freezin’ for a Reason,’ ” said Special Olympics Southern California regional director Abbey Leffler. “They will immediately feel their hearts warm up with joy because they know they are giving to a great cause. Eighty six cents of every dollar raised goes directly to Special Olympics program costs.”
Opening ceremonies at 11:45 a.m. include a special torch arrival by the San Bernardino Co. Sheriff’s Department. Other Polar Plunge activities include family fun area with games, rock wall (weather permitting), arts and crafts, entertainment, displays from law enforcement and Big Bear Discovery Center, and more.
Register at Veteran’s Park at 10 a.m. with coffee and pastries with plungers jumping in at noon. Admission for spectators is free and they can purchase lunch for $5. Proceeds provide year-round training and sports programs for those with intellectual disabilities in the Inland Empire.
Don’t miss the preregistration Plunge Party the night before at The Cave (40789 Village Dr.) from 6-10 p.m. with 1980’s theme. There’s live music as Kissed Alive presents its tribute to rock icons Kiss plus heavy hors d’oeuvres, raffle and the chance to meet local Special Olympics athletes. Beer, wine and cocktails available for purchase.
Admission is free for plungers, $5 for their guests.
Register as a plunger by calling (951) 703-6502 or www.sosc.org/bigbearplunge.