The Polar Plunge serves as the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Special Olympics of Minnesota. There are 20 plunges across the state, and last year alone, 15,000 people raised nearly $4 million. The funds raised stay local and go to the Special Olympics of Minnesota, which, in turn, supports the athletes in their state and regional competitions throughout the year, as well as provides support for various health initiatives.
The White Bear Lake plunge is one of the state’s largest locations, averaging 1,500 participants each year. This is the city’s 19th year in a row, and since the initial plunge, White Bear Lake has raised around $2 million.
The icy dip in the lake wraps up the community’s fundraising efforts—much excitement and energy surrounds this day of celebration. Vendors sell a variety of merchandise, as well as food and coffee, on the sidelines. Participants are in high spirits as they walk to the plunge area, await their turn and leap into the water. After the jump, there is a warming tunnel nearby for plungers to run through and dry off.
Jumping into a lake in January might warrant specific attire, but wetsuits are not commonly found. Megan Powell, special events coordinator for Special Olympics of Minnesota, likens the scene to Halloween. “People will have full costumes bought at the store or completely homemade,” Powell says.
DATE: January 30
LOCATION: Ramsey Beach, 5050 Lake Ave., White Bear Lake