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Take a Chilly Dip

Jan 25, 2012 10:45PM ● By Anonymous
On January 28th, thousands of plungers and spectators will gather at Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis to participate in Maryland’s 16th Anniversary of the Polar Bear Plunge to raise money for Special Olympics Maryland (SOMD). To partake in the chilly event, plungers need to raise at least $50 in pledges while observers can watch for free. Anyone can participate and all of the proceeds go to SOMD.

Special Olympics Maryland is the state’s largest organization to provide sports training and athletic competition for all people over eight years old with intellectual disabilities. SOMD adjusts the sports activities only when essential to meet the mental and physical restraints of participants. The activities increase individual opportunity and growth and create learning opportunities dealing with the community, friendships, and sportsmanship. SOMD’s Kelley Schniedwind reported that the 2011 Plunge raised approximately $3 million for the Special Olympics, totaling the Plunge’s 15 years of contributions to more than $16 million.

Started in 1997 with approximately 350 participants, the Plunge has grown remarkably. In fact, last year’s Plunge attracted over 25,000 people to the exciting event. Adding to the Plunge’s popularity and fun-filled connotation is the Plungefest. The Plungefest surrounds the Plunge experience; admission is free for the all day festival featuring a giant heated tent holding live music, a Plunge Food Court, a Polar Bear Plunge Pageant, a Kids Zone, a giant sand sculpture for the event, and a variety of vendor booths. Several media stations support the big day such as 98 Rock’s Mickey, Amelia, and Spiegel, WBAL-TV’s Jennifer Franciotti and Rob Roblin, and returning celebrity appearance Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco.

2012 also introduces the new Pee Wee Plunge for kids ten and under. Here, participants will wade through a shallow kiddie pool filled with chilly water and ice cubes. Differing for adults this year, alcoholic beverages will be available at Rams Head Ice Lodge, a big supporter of Plunge day. “For the 2011 Plunge, we worked hand-in-hand to help market, promote and book DJ Pauly D for the Rams Head Ice Lodge as well as event management the day of the event,” explains Erin McNaboe, a VP for Rams Head who participates in and helps to organize the Plunge. “We are still working out some of the details for 2012, but as always there will be something new and exciting.” With so much going on at the Plungefest, there are plenty of events for everyone to partake in. Often, participants have trouble choosing a favorite part of the day and can’t quite explain the warm feeling they acquire when they attend the Plunge every year. “The camaraderie amongst strangers for the benefit of such an important and inspiring cause is something that is not explainable with words; it is felt in the heart,” says McNaboe, “It has also been very rewarding to see how the Plunge and the Special Olympics program gives hope to families welcoming special needs children into the world.”

Want to participate in the coolest event of the winter? Go to to find more information and register for the 2012 MSP Polar Bear Plunge!