Polar Bear Dip brings in more than $23,000 for local charities

A total of 34 brave dippers raised a staggering $23,442.60 for local charities and community groups

Taking the plunge - Krista Anderson and Jas Payne soar into the icy waters of Sylvan Lake during the 2015 Polar Bear Dip on Saturday. Both Anderson and Payne took the plunge in support of the Sylvan Lake Spray Park. See more from the Polar Bear Dip and weekend WinterFest festivities in this week’s paper.

Taking the plunge - Krista Anderson and Jas Payne soar into the icy waters of Sylvan Lake during the 2015 Polar Bear Dip on Saturday. Both Anderson and Payne took the plunge in support of the Sylvan Lake Spray Park. See more from the Polar Bear Dip and weekend WinterFest festivities in this week’s paper.

A total of 34 brave dippers raised a staggering $23,442.60 for local charities and community groups at this year’s Polar Bear Dip, which made its return to the lake after weather forced its relocation last year.

It was just one of many events that took place as part of the town’s annual WinterFest festivities, which were complemented this year by much more co-operative conditions.

“We were lucky to have a beautiful, sunny day on Saturday, which brought hundreds of locals and visitors down to the lake to enjoy all of the events that were planned,” said Town of Sylvan Lake special events and program co-ordinator Michelle Morrison. “Everyone seemed to be having a great time spectating and participating.”

This year’s highest individual total was raised by Jas Payne, who collected $3,840 in support of the Sylvan Lake Spray Park. Following closely behind him was Wendy-Jo Sakofsky, who raised $3834.25, also for the Spray Park.

Those funds, and others raised by the Spray Park’s other team members, will greatly help the Spray Park fundraising committee’s cause, according to committee chair Sheryl McDougall.

And she hopes those fundraising efforts will help to encourage others like them.

“We’ve been slowly plugging away at it, and people are really interested and excited about what’s coming to town,” she said. “We’ve had such great community support.”

A location for the planned park was set to be discussed at town council’s next regular meeting on Feb. 23. McDougall said sponsorship packages would be rolled out around the same time.

Ronald McDonald House Central Alberta, the Sylvan Lake Municipal Library and the Sylvan Lake and Area Serenity Pet Shelter Society were among the other beneficiaries of funds raised through Saturday’s Polar Bear Dip.

And the weekend saw plenty of other fun activities taking place throughout town too. Family-oriented games, a movie showing at the library and an ice cream eating contest in support of Sylvan Lake youngster Mike Arthur, who was recently diagnosed with leukemia, were among them.