MEDICINE PARK The weather wasn't very polar-like Saturday, but dozens of crazy denizens took the plunge into Bath Lake in Medicine Park anyway.
In what has become an annual tradition for the cobblestone community, brave souls crowded together on the concrete island in the middle of Medicine Creek. Many were shaking due to being so nervous. Others were shaking out of pure excitement. They stood patiently waiting for plunge aficionado Charley Wright to count down before diving in. Dozens more gathered along both banks of the creek to watch. Within the blink of an eye, the relatively calm waters of Bath Lake were in an uproar while people tripped over each other trying to dive in. Of course dressed in Santa's bathing suit Wright was the first into the water, and one of the last to get out.
It was hard to gauge the final numbers in relation to previous years. The weather was certainly more fair than last year. But warmer temperatures have become more common during the plunge in recent years. Wright said he thought that the crowd had died down a little, which was surprising.
"You can never tell how many people are going to show up," he said.
Among those who jumped was longtime Medicine Park resident Karen Stonerot. Despite attending at least six different polar plunges, she has never jumped in herself. She made the vow this year that she was going to jump in cold or not.
"I guess you could say it was on my bucket list of things to do," Stonerot said. "Each time I come out and watch, but I just don't jump. That's changing today."
While the concept of jumping into a frigid cold Bath Lake may seem simple, Stonerot wasn't so sure. She sought out a friend, and mentor, to help her prepare. Ellie Wright has participated in every polar plunge since the beginning. She said when Stonerot came to her, the new jumper was eager to learn and was determined to jump.
"She didn't need any convincing, she sought me out," Wright said. "I told her the main thing is to have something to get into right after you jumped. I have my big bath robe here. She also needed to watch out for the rocks on the bottom of the lake."