Polar Plunge

Polar Plunge serves as fundraiser

Ever wanted an excuse to dive into the icy waters of West Okoboji in the middle of January?

Well, now’s your chance.

The 39th Annual University of Okoboji Winter Games is the perfect time to take the plunge.

The Polar Plunge, an annual fundraising event for the Arnolds Park Okoboji Fire and Rescue team, will take place at 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26.

The event is sponsored by Okoboji Harley-Davidson and Justin Coyle, the business’s general manager, certainly enjoys watching the people plunge into the polar waters for a good cause, but he himself won’t likely be taking a dip.

“I have not jumped and I probably will not. I’m usually pushing to get other people to jump,” Coyle said with a laugh. “I think it’s a great cause and I know that it takes a lot of equipment to help them help us be safe all throughout the year with all kinds of weather.”

It costs $20 to participate in the Polar Plunge and people can just sign up right down at the jumping site, which will be located this year on the ice between the Arnolds Park Amusement Park State Pier and Bob’s Hot Dogs.

For some brave, or others argue foolish, souls, who take the jump there will be a heated trailer right there on-site so people can change into their warm, dry clothes when they are done.

All of the money is donated to the Arnolds Park Okoboji Fire and Rescue and, according to Coyle, about 100-120 people do the plunge every year.

“We would like to hit the 200 people mark at some point, but it always depends on how cold the water looks and how many dares there are out in the crowd,” Coyle said. “Having people videotape it and share it online also pushes more people to try it.”

The Arnolds Park Okoboji Fire and Rescue team will be on-site and in the water to make sure that the Polar Plunge is safe for participants.

Not only do a lot of people participate in the event, there are also a lot of people who like to watch others hurl themselves into freezing water.

“It’s one of the biggest events of Winter Games. People dress up in crazy costumes to jump in. People really do have a great time and people are hooting and hollering to support those taking the plunge,” Coyle said.

The staff from Okoboji-Harley Davidson will be down at the site and there will be a bonfire set up for people to warm themselves up. There will also be a keg of beer and grilled brats donated by Forbes Meat Locker.

“The staff will be down there hanging out, grilling and having a good time. It’s free for people to come and hang out,” Coyle said. “Even if you don’t jump, you can always still make a donation or dare someone else to jump.”