Special Olympics Polar Plunge moves to City Park

PARKERSBURG – Because of the below-freezing temperatures, the second annual Polar Plunge for Special Olympics West Virginia will move to City Park, an official said.

Event organizer Cheryl Baxter said city officials told her the several layers of ice at Point Park have made holding the event by the Ohio River impossible.

“They said that because of the water level constantly changing and the ice accumulation on The Point, it isn’t safe to have the Polar Plunge at Point Park,” Baxter said. “I can understand this because this has been a particularly bad year.”

“Freezin’ for a Reason” will begin at 2:30 p.m. Feb. 8 with a costume contest and the main event of the plunge itself will be at 3 p.m.

This is the second time the Special Olympics of West Virginia has held the plunge and hopes for double the participants as last year. Last year’s plunge, which took place Feb. 16 at Point Park, saw 41 participants.

Parkersburg is one of five cities throughout the state, others being Charleston, Morgantown, Beckley and Summersville, to hold a Special Olympics polar plunge, which Baxter said has become a national event for the organization.

Participants can be individuals or teams of four representing themselves or organizations and will collect pledges to take the plunge into the ice-cold pool, Baxter said.

All funds raised through pledges raised by individual plungers will go to the athletes throughout the Special Olympics West Virginia organization.

Throughout the years each plunge has raised between $3,500 and $65,000.

All participants will receive a T-shirt and invitation to the post-plunge party at the Blennerhassett Hotel on Market Street. The cost is $5 for non-plungers to attend the party.

The minimum pledge amount is $50. Participants with $200 in pledges also will receive a glass mug. Those with $350 will add a fleece jacket.

Participants who raise $500 or more in pledges will receive all of the above as well as a gift certificate for dinner, Baxter said.

Corporate sponsorships and donations are being solicited for prizes, Baxter said.

Entry forms are available at www.sowv.org or by calling Special Olympics at 304-345-9310. Participants younger than 18 must have a release signed by the parents or guardians.

At 2:55 p.m., a presentation on how to survive the jump will be held before the 3 p.m. start of the Polar Plunge.

Swimsuits must be worn, T-shirts optional, and participants can jump in with their costumes, Baxter said. Tents and restrooms will be available to change immediately after taking the plunge, she said.

Participants are advised to bring extra clothing and towels, shoes or slippers and a jacket or robe. No diving will be permitted.

The event will take place regardless of the weather, rain or shine, hot or cold. There is no such thing as too cold for the Polar Plunge, according to Baxter.

Paramedics will be available at the event, Baxter said.