Al and I ventured out in the bitter cold today to nearby Baldwinsville, NY, where I grew up and graduated from. We wanted to take in the event they call “The Big Chill” on the banks of the Seneca River in Mercer Park. The event is a fundraiser, combined with a “polar plunge” along with many other activities and food events. They raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Ronald McDonald House Charities of CNY, and the Greater Baldwinsville Chamber of Commerce.
We got there at about 11:45 a.m. for what was anticipated as a Noon start of the festivities. They had a DJ at the gazebo who was playing 80’s tunes, and the fire department and ambulance squads were both on scene. There was a couple of large tents where for $10 you could have all the “tastings” of local area foods that you want. Tim Horton’s was there with a tent and giving away free hot chocolate ~ VERY popular!
At noon, the DJ welcomed the sparse crowd with an announcement that the plunges would begin at 1:00 pm ~ another hour to wait in the sunny but frosty cold.
When we arrived, there were members of the local fire department in the icy water scooping out ice chunks and making a clean area for plungers to enjoy. A backhoe was brought in to break the ice initially, then volunteers went in to “clean it up”.
One of the firefighter/volunteers does a back float in his specialized suit while taking a break from hauling ice blocks, slush and chunks of ice out of the plunge area. Moments before, he had been up on the ice at the edge of the hole, then jumped in.
Greater Baldwinsville Ambulance Corp kept watch just up from the water’s edge.
Baldwinsville firefighters heated up the area with a nice bonfire consisting of wood pallets and dried Christmas trees. These young Junior firefighters stood by with an active hose trained on the fire, just in case it was suddenly necessary to put it out. Later, they stood on both sides of the red carpet that led down to the water and gave high fives to the plunge participants as they exited the plunge pond.
Just shy of 1:00 when the plunges were to begin, the crowd edged toward the water waiting to see the spectacle.
Here you can see all of the ice chunks that had to be cleared out of the water before the plungers could begin. Al and I left around 1:30 p.m. ~ my cheeks were just wind-burned and raw, although we’d both dressed in warm layers, the temp was around 7 degrees. By the time the plunges began, the sun had gone behind clouds and the wind had picked up.
Hats off to these brave souls who take the plunge. I don’t know how they do it! The Mayor of Baldwinsville said that this year was the coldest it’s been that he could remember… and he’s done it every year since it began.
Till next we blog again … TTFN.