It’s almost time to strip down into your skivvies and leap into the frosty waters of the Greenbrier River at the 14th annual Greenbrier Valley Polar Bear Plunge! Scheduled for 1pm on Saturday, March 11th this year’s plunge will be held at a new location, Ronceverte’s Island Park. As always there will be good eats with When Pigs Fly BBQ serving up the best barbeque delights and refreshments and entertainment by DJ Penny C, who is this year’s MC. She’ll keep the tunes flowing riverside. You will also hear the annual “Ode to Polar Bear” song by The Greenbrier East JROTC and club members. To conclude festivities, there will be the annual Polar Bear Spirit Award presentation. You can dress in your skivvies or dress up in costume to WIN A PRIZE!
Here are a few suggestions for new plungers….
1.) If you wear less, you will warm-up faster and not spend time stripping off wet clothes after your plunge.
2.) Get outside ahead of time to acclimate your body to the cold temps. It will make your transition into the water less abrupt on your body.
3.) We also suggest you wear water shoes because cold sand can be uncomfortable on your feet.
This special event attracts plungers from West Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, among other states. Many of them are club members and dedicate themselves to plunge every year. In 2013, this event was proclaimed “A West Virginia Tradition,” by former Governor Earl Ray Tomblin. This plunge was also named a Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 Event for 2014.
Island park is located in the heart of Ronceverte and features three ball fields, horseshoe pits, a playground, walking path, and an ampitheatre. It’s situated on 20-acres of property along the Greenbrier River and is easily accessible for everyone and has plentiful parking. The plunge will take place at the boat access area beside the ampitheatre.
While Blue Bend is known to have the iciest waters in the area, the change of location was decided by Polar Bear officials due to the extensive damage to Blue Bend caused by last June’s floods. Greenbrier Polar Bear President, Christian Giggenbach says, “The footbridge leading to the large beach was washed out and roughly half of the flagstone has been upended.” He goes onto say that when the park is restored, future plunges will continue at Blue Bend.
For some folks, polar bear plunging is an annual tradition done for the adrenaline rush. But for most, they are plunging for a reason, which is the Children’s Youth and Advocacy Center, (CYAC), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The CYAC interviews and counsels sexually abused children in Greenbrier, Monroe, and Pocahontas counties and aids in the prosecution of sex offenders.
Each year, Polar Bear members seek out sponsorships to plunge for the CYAC and 100 % of the proceeds go directly to this group. CYAC Executive Director Kat Thompson says, “We want to thank all the plungers, sponsors and volunteers who go the extra mile to combat child abuse in our region. We are proud of our association with the Polar Bear Club and look forward to seeing everyone again this year.” So far, over 400 fearless individuals have earned their polar bear membership cards through the years and since 2005, over $80,000 has been raised for the CYAC.
For the next month, be on the look out for polar bears roaming the area seeking plunge sponsorships. As a sponsor, your business can be listed on this year’s Polar Bear T-shirts and featured in the 2017 Plunge Program Guide. Plungers who raise at least $25 will receive a polar bear T-shirt. A new component this year will be the ability to register plungers online. Sign up at childandyouthadvocacy.org and click on “Events.” You may download your fundraising packets online or pick it up at the CYAC office in Lewisburg You can also pick it up at Little Black Box Lingerie, which is located in Lewisburg behind Applebee’s and near Unique Boutique.
Plunge or watch, don’t miss this annual tradition benefiting a good cause! The Polar Bear Plunge was originally created as a tribute to the club president’s late mother, Kay Sweet Giggenbach, who would have been overjoyed at the sight of everyone running into such freezing water. For more information, contact the CYAC at 304-645-4668 or visit facebook.com/greenbrierpolarbear
– HashtagWV #86, February 2017.