Yesterday morning, March 2 at 10 a.m., thousands of people flocked to Lake Michigan to see actor, comedian, and Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon ("Fever Pitch", "Saturday Night Live") jump in the frigid waters as a part of the Chicago Special Olympics Polar Plunge. Fallon got looped into the event after a string of tweets and a persuasive mayor.
After Fallon invited Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on his show, the mayor replied on Feb. 19 via Twitter saying,
Thx for the invite @jimmyfallon. You should toughen up for the big leagues. Do the Chicago Polar Plunge with me and I’ll join @FallonTonight
Teasing and exciting Chicagoans and Polar Plungers everywhere, Fallon fired back the next day saying,
I don't know @RahmEmanuel... How do I know this isn't a set up? Chicago - if I do this - will you have my back? #PolarPlunge
Needless to say, Chicago had his back. Fallon made it official via Twitter on Feb. 24 saying,
Okay @RahmEmanuel I'm in. Lake Michigan will have a New York fish this weekend. #SwimmyFallon
Chicago - I'm wearing a suit and tie for the #PolarPlunge. Show solidarity by wearing a necktie. (I'm not telling you what else to wear.)
This not only led to over 1000 more entries in the Special Olympics fundraiser, but a hashtag sensation as #SwimmyFallon took over social media outlets the event itself. Numerous participants brought signs or bought shirts with #SwimmyFallon on it, many wearing Jimmy Fallon masks.
Feb. 26 brought another tweet from Fallon saying,
How cold is it in Chicago this Sunday for #PolarPlunge you guys still doing this? #imstillin
The day before the big event brought a string of tweets from The Tonight Show host-
Mayor @RahmEmanuel: gonna stop rumors right now. I am NOT wearing a wet suit for #PolarPlunge. My suit will get WET - but I'm going tough.
“@fallonspal: The #PolarPlunge is gonna be live streamed haha YES! I can't wait @jimmyfallon!!!” Nooooooo!!
Chicago Polar Plungers: I got my ticket. I'm coming. I'm wearing a suit. Wear a necktie (any color) to show solidarity. #PolarPlunge
Even if you are not plunging - take a photo of yourself in a tie and tweet it tomorrow at 10 am Chicago time. Add @SpecialOChi #PolarPlunge
“@jacki1991: @jimmyfallon @SpecialOChi are you nervous?” Yes. Of course. I've never done this. #SwimmyFallon
Anyone ever done a #PolarPlunge? Advice? @SpecialOChi it's gonna be coooooold.
True to his word, Jimmy Fallon arrived and plunged into frigid Lake Michigan in a suit and tie. The temperature was in the single digits with the water and windchill making it feel below zero. While it may seem crazy to see Polar Plungers running into the ice-filled water in their swimsuits, it's actually easier in many ways to run out and warm up without the heavy, water-soaked layers that regular clothes bring. Although the plunging area had a waist-high water level, both Mayor Emanuel and Jimmy Fallon went all out by dunking their heads underwater. Before making the dip, Fallon addressed the public saying,
What is wrong with you people?! Look at all of you guys! Look at what we've done! If you hear the scream of a little girl, just know that Jimmy Fallon is swimming in Lake Michigan on March 2. I got to say, Chicago and New York have a lot in common- great people, great food, but it's more the spirit that reminds me of this, looking out at eveyone here today. This is the human spirit and we're living live to its fullest. Look at all of us out here tonight. Thank you so much for having me, thank you Mayor Emanuel, thank you everyone at the Special Olympics, and of course, thank you city of Chicago for having me. I appreciate it. Hopefully I make it back to The Tonight Show unless we're going to do The Tonight Show from Chicago from now on.
Fallon posted a post-plunge picture of himself sporting a Special Olympics sweatshirt via instagram.
3,200 people participated in Chicago's Polar Plunge for Special Olympics with the top fundraising team, ComEd Coolers, raising $128,000 to help support Chicago Special Olympics athletes. Donations can still be made to Polar Plunge teams now through March 15 via FirstGiving. The event fundraising goal is $1,000,000, and they are currently at $931,172 so far. A $20 donation will get you your own #SwimmyFallon shirt. To continue supporting and learning about Special Olympics Chicago after March 15, visit http://sochicago.org/. To see more pictures and video of yesterday's Polar Plunge event, visit Facebook or to exclusively see Jimmy Fallon's plunge, see Buzzfeed.