Already 29 prepared for plunge, list of polar dippers growing

There’s still time to take advantage of the opportunity to jump into the frigid waters of Sylvan Lake while raising money

There’s still time to take advantage of the opportunity to jump into the frigid waters of Sylvan Lake while raising money for a worthwhile charity.

Jennifer Bickell, of the town’s recreation, parks and culture department, reported Tuesday there are 29 dippers already registered for the Polar Bear Dip. A mixture of guys and gals are now busy gathering pledges.

The fundraising event is limited to the first 50 people who register.

The town will be accepting nomination forms until Feb. 8, said Bickell. The dip takes place on the Family Day weekend, at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16.

As in past years, funds raised by the dippers go to their choice of local charity. Ronald McDonald House and Central Alberta Women’s Shelter are also included on the list of charities that may be supported.

“That’s the unique part of it, everybody gets to jump in for something close to them,” said Bickell. “Hopefully the weather is good and not the -40˚C with wind chill.”

She said she’s expecting to receive forms from more participants on an almost daily basis from now until the cutoff.

The Polar Bear Dip always attracts a large crowd of supporters who line the pier and gather around the hole in the ice to watch and cheer for the brave people who volunteer to entertain them.

Costumes are as varied as the dippers — some choosing to wear uniforms of the organizations they’re supporting or favourite teams while others add a zany aspect to their performance using various water toys or comic attire.

Last year 48 dippers who jumped, pirouetted, cannon-balled and otherwise performed for a crowd of hundreds of cheering supporters set a new record raising $24,859.51 for 22 non-profit community organizations.

Top money raisers were the team of Chrystal Belanger and Shelly Garner whose combined total of $5,256 was collected for Central Alberta Women’s Shelter. They’ve been perennially at the top of the list.

As a result of their efforts and those of others, Central Alberta Women’s Shelter was the top beneficiary receiving $8,517.50.

The top individual was Wendy-Jo Sakofsky who raised $3,098 for Sylvan Lake Playgroup Society. The organization was second in the beneficiary list.

Third on the list of organizations benefitting from the efforts of dippers was Sylvan Lake and Area Community Partners and their Frozen Chosen team which included Mark Lizee, Jackie Schmidt, James Torrens, Todd Prechnau, Andrew Loughrin, Andrew Prechnau, Jodi Hinshaw and Chantel Boos. They raised $2,784.51.