Chicago: A Polar Plunge With A Purpose

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Frigid temperatures, icy waters, and snowy sands… They say, “Go big or go home,” right?

This past weekend, the Lakeview Polar Bear Club in Chicago successfully completed its 11th annual Polar Plunge, an event where participants jump in an unbearably cold Lake Michigan to raise money for two families in need.

Plungers – or “Polar Bears” – met Saturday morning, January 28th on Oak Street Beach on the Chicago shoreline. They subsequently signed their lives away, paid a $30 donation (if they hadn’t pre-registered), and stripped down to their bathing suits – and in some cases, their underwear – for a half an hour of sheer craziness.

Veteran plungers could be distinguished from virgins by the looks of their feet. People who’d jumped before knew that shoes were the key to not only keeping a tad bit warmer but also to keeping all ten toes.

“I’ve heard horror stories,” said one plunger, “about people who jumped and came out, looked down, and counted only nine.”

Whether the myths are true is of no consequence to these devoted people.

As one committed plunger attests, “We do it every year – mainly because we’re crazy, but we are also raising money for a good cause.”

In fact, this year’s Plunge team believes it has racked in over $20,000.

Photo credit: LPBC’s photo albums.

For pictures of the Plunge in years past, check out their albums here.