ST. GEORGE – An array of people, some with capes draping from their shoulders and others wearing neon wigs and hula skirts, conversed with friends and family over breakfast at St. George City Pool. Their time was short; however, as they awaited their moment to plunge the depths of ice-ridden water.
The second annual St. George City Polar Plunge will most likely be remembered for its funky costumes and contagious energy. The Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Chic-fil-A and Einstein’s Bros Bagels provided a free pancake breakfast for the plungers and those who came to cheer them on.
Just before 11 a.m., volunteers emptied two tons of ice into the pool and around 75 people took the plunge.
St. George Mayor Jon Pike volunteered to jump first. Inspired, he plunged a second time spreading his arms and allowing his body to slap against the water in a belly flop.
“It feels good to support this cause,” Pike said.
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Videocast by Amber Green, St. George News
Wendy Ludlow jumped with six other people as part of the “Wishing Welles” team, named for Welles Peterson who was born on Sept. 11, 2013, with Down syndrome. This was the second Polar Plunge her family has participated in, the first was a few years ago in Minnesota. Back then they huddled in hot houses before jumping into a hole that was cut through the ice unveiling 35 below zero waters, Ludlow said.
St. George News Assistant Editor, Mori Kessler, dressed in a Japanese-themed costume, bowed and threw his hat before diving in.
“I soared with the grace of a brick crashing through a window,” Kessler said.
Special Olympian Steve Montgomery, with the “Turn Lightning” team from Cedar City recently won four medals in snowshoeing, one gold, one silver and two bronze.
“I am an athlete,” Montgomery said. “I met the mayor, he did the plunge, two I think, and also there are a lot of sponsors I like, like this,” he said, holding up a Chick-fil-A sandwich, then a Maverik cup and then a Root Sports bottle emblazoned with the Utah Jazz logo.
Linda Pate was triple layered with a thick green plaid jacket, over a sweatshirt, over a Polar Plunge T-shirt that she said she got for taking the plunge. Pate jumped in with a group of “Turn Lightning.”
“I dived with three other people,” Pate said, “I dived in – belly smacked.”
Pate has been working hard to raise sponsorship money, she said she raised $40 from friends, neighbors and the pet store grooming, to sponsor her in the Polar Plunge
The Polar Plunge is a nationwide event that sponsors around 650 athletes with special needs in Utah and helps to provide funding for the Special Olympics.
Special Olympics Utah Regional Program Manager, Janie Belliston, partnered with St. George Police Officers Jeremy Needles and Lona Trombley to start a Polar Plunge in St. George last year for the first time, Belliston said.
“We were able to raise just under $13,000,” Belliston said. “I feel like this year was more successful than last year because of how much more support we got from the community.”
Einstein Bros Bagels donated bagels and coffee and Chic-fil-A donated hot breakfast sandwiches. Sponsors for Polar Plunge included Harmon’s, Walmart, St. George Dealer Collision Center, St. George Lion’s Club and Simmons Media.
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St. George News Editor-in-Chief Joyce Kuzmanic and Photojournalist Amber Green contributed to this report.
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