The sun was out but the temperatures were frigid on Saturday February 5 as hundreds of people were freezing for a reason in Lake Arrowhead.
The Rotary Club of Lake Arrowhead held its 13th annual PolaRotary Bear Plunge at the Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa beach.
Following a year’s hiatus because of COVID-19, Rotary got back in the swim with the goal of increasing community participation and raising funds for mountain charities.
Some 90 volunteers braved the cold waters of Lake Arrowhead including our very own Blue Jay Jazz Foundation (BJJF) vice president Dr. Hugh Bialecki and his team of 11 volunteer jumpers.
During a lively registration event, jumpers decked out in colorful ‘Jumpin for Blue Jay Jazz’ tee-shirts hoisting 37″ saxophone foil balloons and music themed balloon bouquets, sipped hot coffee and posed for photos.
Seconds after jumpers got a rousing drum and trumpet send off by BJJF scholarship winners Will Rubio and Jonathan Angel, the group stormed off the beach and into the lake where water temperatures hovered around 40 degrees.
“Numbing, you get a rush when you jump in,” said Bialecki, a dentist, “It feels amazing because you know it’s for a good cause.”
“Exhilarating, it’s definitely like a shot of adrenaline,” said first time jumper BJJF director Lori Semeniuk.
“It’s very quick… you jump right on in, and trust me, everyone is trying to find an exit as quickly as possible,” said BJJF jumper Lucas Hausler
Patrick Rains, the event’s founder and chairman, said the Plunge has set records each year for the funds raised. The 2020 Plunge raised more than $52,000, bringing the event’s 12-year total to more than $367,000. This year’s tally is expected to exceed $50,000.
“This is more than a Rotary fundraiser, but a genuine service to the community, providing charitable groups with a vehicle to raise funds without having to stage events on their own,” Rains said.
What better way to toast another successful polar plunge, said a wet and shivering jumper who pushed his way past the crowd of revelers up a flight of beach stairs to a steaming hot tub pausing briefly for a shot of warming whiskey.