I’ve done some crazy things over the course of my life. I’ve jumped out of a tiny pink plane at 15,000 feet in New Zealand. I’ve climbed to the top of Mayan pyramids and (inadvertently) swam with a shark.
But, sometimes life is all about knowing your limits… and recently, my threshold was put to the test. I’m talking about the Polar Bear Plunge in Rehoboth, Delaware.
The Polar Bear Plunge is organized by the Delaware Special Olympics and historically raises over $650,000 for the esteemed organization. Nearly 4,000 warm-hearted people participated in the 2012 Plunge, and 2013 was on track to be another record year.
It all started back in October, when I first decided to dig deeper and explore the hidden side of Southern Delaware. I was so delighted with what I discovered, that when I had the opportunity to return in the midst of winter to check out the Polar Plunge Festival, I jumped at the chance.
Immediately, I grappled with the “to do the Plunge, or to not do the Plunge” decision. On one hand, it was completely obvious that I had to do it. The Special Olympics is an organization that I really respect, and the event jives with the daredevil persona that I seem to evoke whenever I hit the road for an adventure.
But, on the other hand, there was just one, tiny, inescapable little detail… I. Hate. The. Cold.
Hate, actually, is too kind of a word for the feeling I feel when I leave a warm, cozy room to brave the elements. Hate is an understatement when I get seated next to the entrance in a restaurant when a wave of frigid air blows over me again and again.
So… I wimped out. I didn’t even bring my bathing suit.
But, the Plunge is a big deal in Delaware. The summer vacation town of Rehoboth goes all out and becomes a winter wonderland for the weekend. There were lots of fun activities throughout the weekend leading up to the Main Event.
And besides the event activities, it was just fun getting to experience Rehoboth in the winter. Thrashers French fries smell just as good (and the line is just as long) and Grotto’s pizza is as delicious as ever.
The morning of the Plunge, as people strutted the boardwalk dressed in their “polar couture,” the energy was palpable. Before I knew it, the countdown begun.
Here is a video of the countdown and the race to the water:
Do I regret not participating in this year’s plunge? Absolutely. But cheering for the brave souls who were ballsy enough to participate in one of the coldest plunges ever was a thrill all it’s own.
And the great news is… there’s always next year.
Here are my favorite costumes from the event: