ST. PETER – Teams with participants from New Ulm, Lafayette, Nicollet and Sleepy Eye helped raise more than $105,000 for Special Olympics Minnesota athletes Saturday at the Polar Bear Plunge in St. Peter.
More than 600 area participants braved a 10-degree temperature for the event, aided by separate, heated changing tents for men and women.
“It was warmer this year than last year,” said Myron Seidl of rural Hanska, who jumped with his wife Cathy on the Red Green Show team that included Kenny Drexler, Nancy Ginkel, Russ and Brooklyn Wiltscheck of New Ulm, Sandy Christopherson of Nicollet, Larry, Ryan and MaryJo Soukup of Sleepy Eye.
Seidl and his team were among the last participants to leave the site parking lot, grilling brats over a wood fire.
“This is great. It’s really a lot of fun. They’re getting more efficient at this. It really went fast this year, much faster than prior years,” said Seidl who has taken the “plunge” with his wife for several years in a row with the team.
The Lafayette Ambulance Service and Boy Scouts team included Mark Dick, Calvin Carlson, Kevin, Randy and Kim Reinhart, Cody Guenther, Matthew and George Hartley, Lexi Platz, Bryce Lindemann, Marti Ude, Jessie Gieseke, Dylan Burger and Nick and Wendy Gjerde.
The Lafayette team hosted a wild game feed at Dave’s Place in Lafayette to benefit Special Olympics Minnesota Saturday night.
The Plungapalooza in Maryland is the largest polar bear plunge in the United States. Held at Sandy Point State Park, 7,400 participants raised $2.2 million for Special Olympics in 2007. In 2008, an estimated 12,000 people participated.
Each Super Bowl Sunday since 1998, Long Beach, N.Y. hosts one of the largest Polar Plunges in the U.S. Some of the oldest plunges in the U.S. began in Boston in 1904 and Milwaukee in 1916.
Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at email@example.com