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Polar Bear Plungers Do It in the Freezing Water

Dundalk residents will participate in the Sandy Point State Park Polar Bear Plunge and a more local version of the event at the Balco Club in Fort Howard.

Nick and Zack Wallace have had their hands full clearing ice so the Ravens Roost 86 version of the Polar Bear Plunge can be held in Fort Howard. courtesy photo
Nick and Zack Wallace have had their hands full clearing ice so the Ravens Roost 86 version of the Polar Bear Plunge can be held in Fort Howard. courtesy photo
Those who say "the colder the better" when it comes to participating in the Polar Bear Plunge should be quite happy this year.

Record cold temperatures over the past two weeks have caused ice to build up in the Chesapeake Bay and area tributaries. Frigid daytime temperatures have been accompanied by gusting winds and wind chill values of below zero.

While thousands of seemingly sane individuals will head to Sandy Point State Park Friday for the annual Maryland Special Olympics fundraiser, local residents will go to Fort Howard's Balco Club for their version of the event that calls for participants to immerse themselves in the frigid waters of the bay.

Participants collect pledges from donors (presumably a little more sane than those who actually plunge) and then gather in a festive, party-like environment to take a dip or two in freezing water.

Super Plungers are even crazier—they commit to plunging once an hour for 24 hours. Those hardy participants began their plunge Friday at Sandy Point and will continue through the night and into Saturday.

Locally, the event is sponsored by Ravens Roost 86, headquartered at the New White Swan restaurant in Millers Island.

Members Nick and Zack Wallace started breaking up  ice on Thursday so participants will be able to enter the water come Saturday.

The twins used a sledgehammer and then a chain saw to break up the thick ice in front of the Balco Club.

Knowing they would have to finish the job Friday, the men showed up at the club Thursday to discover that much of the water cleared of ice Thursday was frozen again.

"Great. Everything refroze around the tumblers," he wrote on his Facebook page. "Round 2, now we gotta go get lights for tonight. Going to be a long cold night."

Edgemere resident Cheryl Taylorson will be one of the many thousands of Plungers at Sandy Point Saturday.

She's participating in her fifth and final plunge.

"This is it, I'm done," she said Friday with a laugh. "This is my last and I'm going out with a bang."

A former coworker who has participated in the Plunge since its 1997 inception roped Taylorson into participating.

Recovering from bronchitis, Taylorson said she will not go completely under the water this year.

"I still want to do it, but I don't want to get pneumonia," she said.

She plans to wear a bathing suit, shorts and water shoes when she plunges at 1 p.m.

"You gotta have water shoes, that's really important," she said.

The Polar Bear Plunge has evolved into a successful fundraiser that this year has raised more than $1.4 million, according to the event's website.

If you'd like to make a donation, visit the Polar Bear Plunge website.

To make donations to the Ravens Roost 86 effort, visit the team's web page.

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