Trish Donnelly took the plunge in support of the Sylvan Lake and Area Serenity Pet Shelter Society.

Polar Bear Dip, sleigh rides, ice marathons and games make Winterfest a delight

Winterfest took place on the frozen lake this past weekend and proved to be a huge success as always.

Winterfest took place on the frozen lake this past weekend and proved to be a huge success as always.

The warm weather attracted crowds around where people took the plunge during the Polar Bear Dip. Families enjoyed a wide variety of activities as well as watched the Sylvan LakeIce Marathons where participants strapped on their skates and raced their hearts out.

All events were very popular. Spectators were lined around the square that had been cut into the ice where courageous jumpers lept into the water to complete their fundraising challenges.

Among the jumpers were Chrystal Belanger and Denae Hussey who raised $2,040 for the Sylvan Lake and Area Serenity Pet Shelter Society and Central Alberta Women’s EmergencyShelter; Ivanka Tucker who raised $1,650 for Chinook’s Edge School Division for the new Beacon Hill School play ground; and Brandon Debler, Nicholas Bateman, Brad Long andEvan Spielman who raised $980 for the Central Alberta Ronald McDonald House.

The total raised from the dip was $12,718.86.

To ensure the jumpers were safe going in and coming out of the water the Sylvan Lake Fire Department firefighters and ice rescuers were there to help them out of the water.

A captain on the fire department and an ice rescuer trainer David Spencer assisted the jumpers and said the fire department has been doing it for around the past 12 years.

The ice rescuers in the water are trained, in their appropriate gear and are properly secured to keep themselves safe.

Spencer said it is great being able to help out with the dip every year.

“Once you’re in a suit you can flounder around in the water and it’s great,” he said. “That’s not an experience many can have.”

The most fun being in the rescuers position is not only hanging out in the water but seeing how the jumpers react to getting in the cold water.

“Jumping in the water initially is always a good thing, the guys really enjoy that,” Spencer said. “But being right in there with the jumpers and seeing their expressions and then extreme panic to get out of there, it’s really quite funny to be part of that.”

Corrie Brown, programmer for the Sylvan Lake Municipal Library was one of the jumpers and raised $300 for the library.

This is her fifth year fundraising and jumping. She said it is worth jumping.

“It is fun,” Brown said. “The only downside is getting out of the hole, otherwise it’s great.”

When the Polar Bear Dip was finished the crowds ventured off to see what was set up in the area between the Polar Bear Dip and the Ice Marathon.

This included a Tim Horton’s station of coffee for adults and several fun game stations such as golf, bowling and other family fun games.

Before reaching the marathon, families could hop on for a sleigh ride pulled by horses.

The marathon was packed with spectators cheering the skaters on as they skated by.

The weather could not have been more perfect for this event either.

Spectators and skaters enjoyed eating hot dogs at the event and donations collected from the hot dogs were almost $2,400.


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