Polar Plunge scheduled Feb. 8 at Bicentennial Park

PARKERSBURG — The annual Polar Plunge benefit for West Virginia Special Olympics in Parkersburg will be held in February at a new location.

Slated to begin 1:30 p.m. Feb. 8, the winter-time fundraiser will be held at Bicentennial Park between the courthouse and city hall, a change from the former venue of the Point Park Marketplace along the floodwall, organizer Cheryl Baxter said. The marketplace closed since last year’s Polar Plunge was held in February 2019.

“We’re excited about having it at Bicentennial Park,” Baxter said. “This is an exciting place right in the middle of downtown.”

The Polar Plunge is a jump into an ice-cold pool. Participants, generally in teams of four, obtain pledges to make the jump.

All proceeds from the Polar Plunge go to the West Virginia Special Olympics for programs that benefit athletes with developmental disabilities. Single events, of which seven are held around the state, have raised as much as $25,000 for the organization.

From 45 to 65 people participate in the jump, many wearing costumes for the event, Baxter said.

“Sometimes businesses will get a competition going,” she said.

Registration, which can be made online at sowv.org or on the day of the event at the park, begins at 1:30 p.m. when the festival area opens. The costume contest will be held at 2:30 p.m.

At 2:55 p.m., plungers are advised on how to survive the plunge. Participants have been advised to bring a robe and slippers to wear before and after the plunge and to bring towels, extra towels, too.

The plunge, in which diving is prohibited, starts at 3 p.m.

Plungers receive awards for the amount of pledges they raise: $50, T-shirt; $200, mug and a T-shirt; $350, a fleece, mug and a T-shirt; $500, a gift certificate for dinner, a fleece, a mug and a T-shirt.

The After-Plunge Party after the plunge will be held in the conference room on the second floor of city hall, Baxter said. It is free for participants and others can attend for an admission fee.

Food for the event will be provided by Wendy’s, she said. The restaurant usually has a team entered in the plunge, Baxter said.

Special awards will be presented to the individual raising the most money, the team of four raising the most money, the individual with the best costume and the team with the best costume.

The Parkersburg fire and police departments, the mayor’s office and Downtown PKB are assisting with the event, Baxter said.

Among other Polar Plunges around the state, a plunge will be held Friday at the Winter Sports Classic at Canaan Valley Resort in Davis, Saturday in Wheeling at Schenk Lake at Oglebay Park, Feb. 1 in Hurricane at Hurricane City Park and Feb. 22 at Morgantown at Crab Shack Caribba at Cheat Lake.

Rules include: each participant must raise a minimum of $50 to plunge; participants can stay in the water as long as they like, but most quickly exit, within established safety guidelines; diving is not permitted; wet suits are not permitted; swimsuits or shorts with a T-shirt are permitted.

A signed release form is required. Participants under 18 must have a release signed by a parent or guardian.