Yorkers take the Polar Bear Plunge for Special Olympics
There are two kinds of Polar Bear Plunge participants: those who dip their toes in first, and those who just go for it.
"You can't think about it, you just have to go," said participant Erika Silko, of Dover.
Hundreds of brave souls took a dip in the Susquehanna River in Wrightsville Saturday— in spite of the cold weather — to help raise money for York County Special Olympics.
Teams began taking the plunge around noon.
Spectators watched as teams made their way into the frigid water, with some dipping their toes in and others fully submerging themselves in the water.
Team members who opted not to plunge performed the "Chicken Dance" instead, signifying that they were too "chicken" to go in the cold water. Roughly 700 people went into the river, according to Krista Gardner, a member of the event's fundraising committee.
The teams: Blue Line Plungers was a team made up of retired and current York County police officers, friends and family members. They were the first to make the plunge and were led to the river by an officer playing bagpipes.
The group raised $14,000 this year for Special Olympics.
The team's captain, Robert Lehman, a retired officer from Spring Garden Township, was bundled up after making the plunge. He submerged himself completely during the plunge.
Despite the cold, he said, he was happy to do it.
"It's all about the kids," he said. "I think we get as much out of it as they do."
Another team, "Freezin for our Beez," a team of nine that made the plunge in honor of Kristin Barker's brother, Brian Sheller, nicknamed "Beez." Brian was a former Special Olympics participant who passed away. Team members were wearing bee outfits when they made the plunge.
Barker, of Dover, said the cold water can be painful.
"It feels like you're being stung by a bazillion bees," she said.
After the plunge, Barker said she enjoyed the experience.
"It was awesome," she said.
Barker added that the water felt even colder than it has in previous years.
"It really took your breath away for a second," she said.
Some teams had costumes and others went in only bathing suits. Someone dressed as Spider-Man also made the plunge.
The event raised $120,000 in donations, according to event fundraiser Gardner.
"We are so thankful to have the support of the community," she added.
— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at firstname.lastname@example.org.