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Minneapolis Polar Bear Plunge Promises Frigid Fun for a Good Cause


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Photo by Dean Lingenfelter

I've taken cold showers very few times in my life—once at a campground when I ran out of hot water, once after a long, hot, sweaty run, and once when my parents' hot water heater wasn't working. (Shortest shower of my life.) Any other cold showering experiences have been blocked from my memory.

I've never done a Polar Plunge because jumping into a cold lake in Minnesota during the winter seems to me about as pleasant as a cold shower, but maybe—when you know the freezing cold is coming—it's less of a shock to the system and more of an exhilarating shot of adrenaline. Even still, I completely respect those who participate, because I know their hearts are in the right place. I respect anyone who donates time, talent, or resources to charitable organizations—which is the main purpose of this chilly event. The Polar Plunge is presented by Minnesota law enforcement as a fundraiser for Special Olympics Minnesota, providing year-round sports training and competition to kids and adults with intellectual disabilities. Plus there's the fun factor (I love a good costume!), the we're-all-in-this-together/strength-in-numbers/we're-crazy-but-we're-courageous factor, and the cool factor. Even new Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon is doing a Polar Plunge this weekend, in Chicago.

This Saturday is the Minneapolis Polar Bear Plunge on Lake Calhoun (Thomas Beach), beginning at 11 a.m. To celebrate the weekend, there will be a 7 p.m. fireworks display on Friday, February 28 visible from around Lake Calhoun, or from the "Plunger Village" at Thomas Beach, complete with a warming station, donuts, and merchandise. The warming station will be open from 6-8 p.m.

If you'd like to watch the participants "take the plunge" on Saturday, shuttle buses will be taking spectators and Plungers from the Lake Calhoun Executive Center, Cowboy Jack's, and Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill at The Shops at West End in St. Louis Park starting as early as 7:30 a.m. Check the website for more details.

 Brrring it on!

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