The 1st Annual Lehigh Valley Polar Plunge takes place Saturday, January 19 at Scott Park in Easton, PA. Hundreds are expected to plunge into the icy waters of the Delaware River this weekend, braving the cold to raise money for the Special Olympics. Participants from all walks of life have raised or will donate $50 or more in support of Special Olympics Pennsylvania athletes, with over $72,000 raised before the morning of the event.
Former professional boxing and heavyweight champion, Larry Holmes, and retired professional basketball player, Darryl Dawkins, are expected to be on hand, reported Special Olympics Pennsylvania Development Consultant, Denise Thorne, who didn't confirm whether either celebrity athlete would be taking the plunge.
Online registration is closed, but walk-in registration opens Saturday 7:30 a.m. and continues until the Plunge 1 p.m. start time. Individuals, including children with a signed parent or guardian waiver, can register with a $50 donation. Entertainment includes live music to begin at 9 a.m., with costume contest judging at 11:30 a.m. followed by awards at noon.
While some participants plan to plunge wearing only a bathing suit, others will be in costume or even wetsuits.
“Wear whatever is comfortable and appropriate and make sure to bring along warm clothes to change into after the plunge.” Thorne suggested, adding that shoes are a must.
Any old shoes will do, according to the event website, but for safety reasons nobody will be permitted to plunge without them. No bare feet, no exceptions.
Taking the plunge doesn’t mean you have to get your head wet, or even your knees, for that matter.
“You do not need to go in [the water] to a certain level,” Thorne explained, adding, “Some people dip a toe in, others fully submerge.”
For those not keen on dipping even a toe into the freezing waters of the Delaware, participants can opt out of the plunge while still making a difference by registering as “Too Chicken To Plunge.” This special category still requires a $50 donation, with each participant to receive a “Too Chicken” plunge shirt.
The main event begins at 1 p.m. following a safety briefing. For safety reasons, participants enter the water in waves of 75 people. Each wave group will be designated by a wristband color, and wave times will be posted the day of the event. Everyone must have a wristband, distributed at the registration tent, to enter the water.
The Lehigh Valley Plunge is one of six Pennsylvania Polar Bear Plunge Dates, with the Pittsburgh Plunge in December 2012 bringing in over $350,000, making it the largest fundraiser in the history of Special Olympics Pennsylvania.