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By Jaryd Cline
Sports editor 

Sun comes out for Polar Plunge but after everyone leaves

 

January 9, 2019

Jaryd Cline

The first Polar Plungers make their way into the 41 degree temperatures of the Columbia River on New Year's morning in Maryhill.

Both the water and the weather was warmer this year as dozens of spectators lined the beach at Maryhill to cheer on the 35 or so brave plungers who submerged into the frigid Columbia River first thing on New Year's Day.

The Polar Plunge went on for a 12th straight year last Tuesday morning, with the skies starting slightly overcast before the sun came out and filled the park not even 10 minutes after the final plungers exited the water.

"Well the water was very cold as anticipated," event coordinator Lori Anderson said shortly after plunging, "but as always (it's) cool, refreshing, and everyone's having a great time."

The water and air was cold, an icy 41 and 35 degrees respectively, but not quite as cold as it was at last year's Plunge, when the water temperature was 37 degrees and the air temp. 31.

The beachfront looked packed just before the plungers took to the water at 10 a.m., but many of those on the beach were just there to watch the 35 who either plunged all the way, or went as far as they felt comfortable with.

"There were definitely more spectators than plungers, but the spectators were cheering us all on and those who plunged had a good time," Anderson said.

Plungers and spectators from The Dalles, Hood River, some even from California, and many from Goldendale were at Maryhill early New Year's Day, while the watchers outnumbered the plungers nearly two to one. Many spectators huddled around the lit fire pit on the beach, the first of the 12 years that a fire has been available to keep both plungers and spectators warm.

Jaryd Cline

Some Polar Plungers make their way back to shore while others waded around a little bit longer in the water.

Eric Kincaid, a Maryhill Maintenance Mechanic, became the first Washington State Park worker who's made the plunge in the 12 years, and stayed after to extinguish the fire that kept both onlookers and plungers warm during and shortly after the event.

Oregon Public Broadcasting (FM Radio station 89.7 and 91.5 in Goldendale) also got ahold of Anderson after first hearing about the Polar Plunge and had her on the 'Think Out Loud' show on Dec. 27 for a short interview talking about the event.

Last Tuesday's event wrapped up quickly, and the area cleared out within minutes as plungers dried off, changed their clothes, and quickly got into their heated cars.

"It was great," Anderson said. "And looking forward to many more."

Anderson already is in the early process of setting up next year's event, thinking of some ideas of how to make the 2020 Polar Plunge even more unique than the 12 previous ones.

 

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