Big turnout in Maryhill as Polar Plungers start New Year fresh
January 3, 2018
The weather was cooler and so was the water, and more than 50 people bared the frigid waters of the Columbia River at the 11th annual Polar Plunge on Monday morning at Maryhill State Park.
The water was a crisp 37 degrees, down about one degree from last year's event while the weather also dipped down to 31 degrees at the start of the plunge. Last year it was 34 degrees at 10 a.m. New Year's Day 2017, one of the warmest plunges on record.
Lori Anderson, who's been coordinating the Polar Plunge every New Year's Day since 2007, was pleased by the turnout, which included about 10-15 more people than last year's event.
"I was impressed," Anderson said after everyone finished with plunging. "I always get worried as we're getting people registered. It goes really slow and then like the last 10 minutes it was quite freaky."
There were a few ways to register, one by signing up early and turning in paperwork beforehand to Anderson or a few other locations throughout town. Plungers also were allowed to sign up prior to the event taking place at 10 a.m., and many waited until then to do so. Anderson was still taking sign ups just before the 10 a.m. plunge, and made her way down to the river for a quick safety speech before a 10 second countdown sent some of the group sprinting into the freezing water, and some taking it easy as they went in.
There were people of all ages that made their way down to Maryhill slightly before the plunge started at 10 a.m.
Groups of kids and participants in their 80s sprinted into the water, some going completely under before quickly getting back out and drying off.
Anderson has been plunging herself completely underwater since beginning the New Year tradition.
"If you instigate, you must participate," Anderson joked. "If you're going to do it you might as well go all in."
It's a very unique and cool way to start the year, always drawing a good number of people from around the county. This year, there were also people from Tacoma and California.
"I know years ago you would see Polar Plunges around the world so it's like 'Why don't we do that?'" Anderson said. "It's something fun and different. And what's neat about the Polar Plunge, it's not just fun it's different. It's New Year's Day and literally you are starting the New Year out in a cool, refreshing note, and then you can be prepared for everything else."
In the past, Rodger Nichols, from KLCK 1400 AM, has been at the event taking pictures and more, but had prior engagements, so KLCK's Kevin Malcolm said he would participate in the plunge. Malcolm is blind, but was helped in and out of the 37 degree water by Robbie Johnson.
Anderson said she would like to thank all the volunteers who help make the event possible year after year, and also Washington State Parks, which provided the warm facilities.
"Another successful Polar Plunge and it was very well organized," Regional Director of Washington State Parks Lem Pratt said.