YMCA's Polar Bear Plunge to Take Place Saturday at Bald Eagle State Park
From Robin Hood to Elmo, the YMCA of Centre County's annual Polar Bear Plunge draws in more costumed dippers each year.
Slated for Dec. 7 at Bald Eagle State Park, the 2013 event has already drawn 83 plungers, and executive director Liz Toukonen wants the community to know it's not too late to sign up.
Registration and check in for the 11th annual event will begin at 10 a.m., followed by breakfast and pre-plunge activities until 10:45. The plunge will take place at 11 a.m..
All proceeds benefit the YMCA's Open Doors Program, Toukonen says, which means the Y doesn't have turn anyone away for inability to pay. Last year alone the Y granted more than $345,000 to the program.
"Events like the plunge are extremely important for us to fulfill that mission," she says.
The goal for this year's plunge is to raise $50,000. Last year there were 177 plungers, and about $45,000 was raised.
"We've always increased by quite a few plungers each year," Toukonen says, adding that the first year only 17 people participated.
Some new agenda items for this year's event include a photo booth, face painting, yard games, a fire pit, and music playing as plungers run into the water. Additionally, breakfast will be provided to everyone by Pizza Mia.
Toukonen says the Polar Bear Plunge is a family event. She encourages everyone to come out, participate in activities and show support, whether or not they plunge.
"(We're) really trying to make it a fun morning," she says.
For first-time dunkers, Toukonen recommends participants wear less layers rather than more, since it's important clothing be removed quickly in the warming tents after plunging.
"Less is better," she says.
"I do not recommend bathing suits (for women)," she adds, and "everybody has to have shoes."
"It's just a lot of fun," Toukonen said. "Just enjoy the day."
Over the years people have donned interesting attire, dressing up as Santa Claus and characters from Star Wars and the Wizard of Oz. One year a couple dunked in their prom dress and tuxedo.
"We've had some great costumes," Toukonen says. "(There have been) lot of different things, a lot of creativity."
Best costume awards are given out for both groups and individuals. Additionally, awards are given out for groups and individuals who raise the most money.
"Super plungers," or participants who raise $300 or more, can jump in three times if they want.
And groups of five or more can choose their own music as they submerge.
Other awards and challenges, according to the YMCA's website, include a bartender challenge and Little Dippers, which is designed for children 8 to 12 years.
Following the plunge, closing remarks will be held at 11:45 a.m., along with a 50/50 drawing. A post-plunge party will be held beginning at 12:30 p.m. at Bonfatto's in Bellefonte.
Plungers may register up until the day of the event. A minimum of $75 in donations is required to plunge, and must be submitted with the registration form. All plungers must be at least 13 years old.
Click HERE for more information.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: YMCA of Centre County's Polar Bear Plunge
WHEN: Begins at 10 a.m. on Dec. 7
WHERE: Bald Eagle State Park in Howard