What better way to start 2023 than a good old-fashioned Polar Plunge? This was our third annual Southern Utah Polar Plunge with over 80 participants in attendance and raised an estimated $700+ for the Washington County Children’s Justice Center. Weather conditions cooperated as fog hovered over the lake with just light sprinkles. The cloudy skies and foggy conditions made for some pretty amazing photos. The water temperature is around 47º-50º this time of year. The lake can be warmer than the outside temperature, which may add to the reason why so many participants jump in more than once.
How did this tradition all get started? As the event director for Dig Paddlesports, I used to run Polar Plunges in Northern Utah before moving south. Lakes up north had to have the local fire department cut a large hole in the ice as trained divers assisted jumpers in and out of the freezing 30º lake. We may not be cutting a hole in the ice here in Southern Utah, but ask any participant and they will tell you it’s cold enough! I didn’t have to do much to convince the owners of Dig Paddlesports Bill and Michelle Ennis that a Polar Plunge could be done in Southern Utah. They are always up for a new adventure. All we had to do next was find a local non-profit to do a fundraiser for. There’s something about starting the new year helping those in need that can bring a community together.
Our first polar plunge was held at the end of 2020. As we looked at who had been impacted by the stresses of the year, it was the kids that came to mind. Leading us to the Washington County Children's Justice Center. In 2020 the Children’s Justice Center had an increase in the number of children and their families that used their services. The CJSWC provides the community with a safe place for children to speak out and get counseling. Director Sheridan Wilson says they also supply gift cards, medical testing, and valuable resources for victims of crime, physical and phycological abuse, or sexual assault. The CJCWC holds a special place in our hearts here at Dig Paddlesports. Owners Bill and Michelle Ennis, along with myself, have used the Children’s Justice Center resources for our own children. We know firsthand how important their services are in the healing process.
Participants jumping into the lake are encouraged to dress up, and these costumes get better and better every year. Costumes have ranged from Scottish Kilts, Baby New Year, Santa, a group of Nuns, Wonder Woman, Nacho Libre, and a pineapple. But it was the jumping Nun that took first prize this year. We have added one more prize for the most jumps! This year we had a record-breaking seven jumps by two friends, Leilani Finlayson and Ashlynn Apffel. Beating last year's record of five. As participants exited the cold lake we had a fire pit, warming tent, and hot chocolate waiting for them. January 1st, 2024 is already on the calendar, go ahead and dare your friends to join you next year.
Thank you to our sponsors, volunteers, and local businesses that helped to make the 2023 Polar Plunge a success. If you would like more information on how you can help with our next event please email email@example.com