People interested in marking the start of 2013 by jumping into the ice cold waters of Portage County will have a few chances next week courtesy of local taverns hosting polar bear plunges Monday, Dec. 31, and Tuesday, Jan. 1.
Corky’s Bar, 2235 S. County Trunk JY in Shantytown, will host the Shantytown Polar Plunge, on New Year’s Day Tuesday, Jan. 1, at 1 p.m.
Participants can register at the bar at noon where they each pay $10 and receive a T-shirt and a shot of “liquid courage”, said Curtiss “Corky” Filtz, bar owner.
Participants will then head out onto the ice of Wadley Lake for the jump, joining a tradition that dates back about 34 years, said Filtz. After the jump, participants can come back to the bar for a chili dump, a raffle and to watch the Rose Bowl, said Filtz.
A warm winter and heavy snow had Filtz concerned about ice conditions, but recent cool temperatures have helped thicken the ice on the lake. “We should be more than fine,” he said.
About 52 people participated in the event last year. For the first time, Filtz will be among those making the leap. “I made a stupid bet and I lost,” he said, explaining his motivation.
The Glacier Ridge Tractor Club will sponsor the event this year along with the bar.
Rusty’s Backwater Saloon, 1715 W. River Drive West in the town of Linwood, will hold its 20th annual Polar Plunge at noon Tuesday, Jan. 1.
Rusty’s has held the Polar Bear Swim since 1992, when 14 people made the plunge and about 100 spectators watched. It has grown to be one of the largest polar bear events in the area with more than 100 now braving the freezing waters of Mill Creek while several hundred more watch.
There is no cost to jump, and there will be a band in the bar afterward.
Club 10, 1302 Highway 66 West in the town of Carson, will host its Polar Plunge event starting at 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 31.
The event is in its third year and is a fundraiser for the Junction City chapter of United Special Sportsman Alliance’s (USSA) spring turkey hunt for disabled veterans and challenged youth.
“One hundred percent of the proceeds go to the club,” said Bob Jakusz, organizer and bar owner.
Jakusz got involved in USSA’s Junction City chapter a few years ago as a hunt mentor. “I was pretty impressed with the club and what they do,” he said.
He stayed involved though the New Year’s Eve fundraiser, which saw 50 participants help raise $3,100 in 2010. Jakusz said the 2011 event was also successful but that it didn’t see as much growth as he had hoped. He’s hoping people this year collect more pledges and participate in the raffles to help the local USSA group.
Participants jump from the Club 10 dock into the Wisconsin River. There will be a warming and changing shelter and a bonfire outside during the event. Entertainment and raffles will be hosted inside the bar throughout the evening.
People taking the plunge are asked to raise donations on pledge sheets available at the bar leading up to the event. Donations will also be accepted throughout the evening on Dec. 31.