Photo courtesy of Alissa Rosenstein
The Lewes Polar Bear Plunge, a very “cool” (cold? freezing??) local tradition, is held annually on the first Sunday in February and A LOT of people do it. Where else can you voluntarily launch yourself into frigid ocean water for the sake of charity? But it isn’t just a quick plunge into the icy Atlantic – the entire weekend is a fun-filled multi-day festival leading up to the big event.
Started in 1992, the first event, benefitting the Special Olympics of Delaware, took place at Cape Henlopen State Park where 78 people plunged and raised $7,000. Over the years, plungers known as “Bears” have faced sub-zero temps, blizzards, nor’easters, park damages, and postponements. But none of these obstacles could stop the event (moved permanently to Rehoboth Beach in 1998) from growing year after year – in number of participants and money raised. Last year 3,325 Bears raised more than $780,000!
The Weekend Plunge Festival begins with check in and registration on Friday, February 5. Saturday activities include a 5K Run to the Plunge, Chili Contest, Ice Sculpting Demonstration, Polar Ice Cream Throwdown, and other fun family activities. The main event will be held on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. in Rehoboth Beach, with check in and registration beginning at 10:00 a.m. Bears and spectators are invited to thaw out at the Après Plunge Party at the Baycenter in Dewey Beach starting at 1:15 p.m.
When all is said and done, you may experience a little bit of shrinkage, but, hey, at least it’s for a good cause! For more information on the event, volunteer opportunities, or to register, visit www.plungede.org.