Wild and crazy ‘plunge’ set Saturday

With the National Weather Service in State College predicting a high of 23 degrees on Saturday, most will be trying to avoid the winter chill. But others will embrace it as they prepare to participate in the annual polar bear plunge at Haywood’s on the Water, 610 Antlers Lane.

“It’s a little fun event in the middle of the icy, cold winter,” said John Engel, treasurer of the South Williamsport Little League. “If you’re nuts and you want to have a little fun, this is the event for you.”

This is the second year that the South Side league will host the event and hope to expand on last year’s success. About 100 “crazy folks,” participated in last year’s plunge, according to Jamie Flick, vice president of the league.

The league became part of the event when a previous owner of Haywood’s offered them the opportunity to be the beneficiary of the proceeds. The funds helped pay for the league’s new fields.

The $20 entry fee to participate this year will be split between the league and Andrew’s Special Kids Foundation, which provides funding and programs for children with special needs.

There is no preregistration for the event. Participants just need to show up between 10 and 11 a.m. to register. Flick said at 11 a.m. the group will line up and take the plunge.

“In you go, and you’re not in there taking a bath. You go in there and you’re out of there right away,” Flick said.

Engel said those who participate look forward to doing “plunges” every year.

“You can’t get this feeling doing anything else,” he said.

Flick was surprised at the range in ages of people who participate and hopes more will show up this year.

“The demographic wasn’t what we really thought it would be,” he said. “We thought it would be a bunch of college kids but it wasn’t. Like I said, we had senior citizens and Little League kids.”

And although some like to participate, Engel said he would rather be an observer.

“I like to watch people do it. Last year they were teasing us about going in. Watching these people just makes you laugh. There’s almost just as many people watching as doing it,” he said.

Flick said it is an opportunity to help “two great causes,” while also having fun.

“It’s crazy,” he said. “It’s wild and crazy.”