Chilly dive into Bath Lake set for Saturday
Wed, 01/29/2014 - 12:02am Josh Rouse
The brave denizens of Medicine Park will continue to tempt Mother Nature's wrath with the annual Polar Bear Plunge Saturday.
For 16 years, a growing group of stalwart men and women have huddled together the first Saturday of February on the banks of Bath Lake of Medicine Creek before taking the literal plunge into freezing cold waters. Bill Patty, owner of the Park Tavern, organized the first event in 1998 a distraction from the bitterly cold temperatures that usually grip Southwest Oklahoma during the waning weeks of winter. It has become a tradition that continues to attract both cobblestone community residents and outsiders.
"This is going to be my 10th year jumping," said Carnegie resident Robin Dietrich. "My friend, Melodee, and I come out every year for this. We mark it on our calendars and look forward to it."
A decade ago, Dietrich and her friend were attending classes at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford. An ice storm was moving through the area, so the two decided to leave campus and try to make it home. As they traveled through Comanche County, the ice storm let up and the two decided to visit Medicine Park. The only thing open in the small town was the Park Tavern, where they decided to stop and have a drink before going home to Carnegie.
"We sat down and we started looking around and it was a little strange," Dietrich said. "At the time, there wasn't a lot of jumpers, so there's maybe 10 to 15 people in the bar. They're all half-naked, wearing robes, and there's an ice storm outside. They're all much, much older than we are and wearing nothing but robes with house shoes, carrying a towel."