Tue January 1, 2013
New Year's Day Means Polar Plunges
A Wisconsin New Years Day tradition continues today. People around the state people will dive into freezing waters as part of a "polar bear plunge."
Several events are planned around the state, including Madison, Milwaukee, Sheboygan, and in Jacksonport in Wisconsin's Door County.
It's the 27th year for the Jacksonsport Polar Bear Club's swim in lake Michigan. John Jarosh is one of the coordinators. He says numbers depend on the day of the week, if the Packers are playing, and weather.
"It's just a little crazy, some people think you're absolutely nuts for doing it and yet it's not crazy enough that a lot of people are like, 'gosh darn it I want to try that at some point.' or, 'that's on my bucket list.' or , 'I lost a bet.' Whatever the case may be," he says.
In Jacksonport the plunge will take place at Lakeside park. The local fire department will be on hand for crowd control and to make sure no one gets hurt by errant ice chunks.
Jarosh says the event is free but participants are encouraged to bring donations for a food pantry.
"We're a non profit organization," he says. "Any proceeds that we get from the sale of t-shirts and stuff after covering our expenses we make a donation to the Jacksonport Firefighters Association just to help them usually, go maybe toward getting a new dry suit or something with their water rescue team to make sure that the lakeshore stays safe for everybody here in Door County.
Jarosh's "day job" is as a spokesman with the Door County Visitors and Convention Bureau. He says the polar bear club has never done an economic impact study, but adds that many of the participants are out-of-towners.