June 28, 2016

Intermittent clouds

More than 200 jump into Chippewa Lake for Polar Bear event

CHIPPEWA LAKE — No one was wondering whether the water was cold. Going simply by the looks on their faces, they just knew it.

About 220 people made the plunge into a 35-degree Chippewa Lake on Saturday afternoon, jumping off the lake’s beachside dock solo or with a group of friends or relatives for the third annual Polar Bear Run, Walk and Jump. The number of participants exceeded last year’s total of 177.

Is it the Blue Man Group or the Smurfs? "Take your pick," said Eric Burlingame, the fourth from the left in this group of jumpers during today's third annual Polar Bear Run, Walk and Jump at Chippewa Lake. Pictured from left are Lake Erie College graduates Taylor Jonard, David Dunne, Kevin Chapman, Burlingame and Barrett Fredrickson. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY STEVE GRAZIER)

“It just takes your breath away, literally,” said Connie Wills, a Chippewa Lake resident, minutes after making her third jump in three years into the chilly Chippewa water.

Wills and her daughter, Jessica Sanders, jumped into the water wearing outfits of Dr. Seuss characters “Thing 1” and “Thing 2.” Wills was “1,” while Sanders was “2.”

“It’s the same water, and we’ll be here next year,” said Sanders, while en route to her mother’s hot tub at home near the jump spot.

Many jumpers donned unique outfits to make their plunge Saturday into the lake’s frigid water. Some wore superhero costumes, such as Batman and Batgirl, Superman, Captain America, Wonder Woman and Aquaman. Others dressed up as Trojan warriors, mountain men, Smurfs, clowns and zoo animals.

The “bacon and eggs” breakfast combo of Diane Jett and Jeremy Davis, both of Seville, were first-time jumpers. Jett wore a costume resembling a side order of bacon, and Davis was a pair of “sunny-side-up” eggs.

“This is on my bucket list and good for charity. I’m just keeping Hawaii on my mind before I go,” Jett said prior to her plunge.

Seconds after her first jump, Jett said, “You can forget about Hawaii.”

Prior to the plunge, many participants warmed up to the idea of jumping into Chippewa Lake by running or walking 2 miles. The walk/run lasted for about an hour, said Alan Robbins, chairman of the Polar Bear event. Jump time was 1 p.m.

A quartet of professional divers was in the water for safety reasons and to assist jumpers exiting the water.

The Polar Bear festivity benefits the village’s CrossPointe Church Community meal program and Feeding Medina County Initiative, in addition to raising a few bucks for the Chippewa Lake Lions Club, which sponsors the event. About $8,000 was raised in 2012 through registration fees, donations and sponsorships.

The goal this year was to generate $20,000, Robbins said.

“I think we’ll see a nice increase this time, but we’ll take whatever we can,” he said.

Contact reporter Steve Grazier at (330) 721-4012 or sgrazier@medina-gazette.com.

View photos at SmugMug