The 11th Annual Greenbrier Valley Polar Bear Plunge is slated to be held on Saturday, March 8th. Well over 100 participants are expected to brave the icy waters of Anthony Creek in this wonderfully frigid spectacle of fundraising and arctic fun.
Averaging a balmy 36F degrees in March, the Blue Bend Recreational Area portion of Anthony Creek is truly a blue bend in the river. With underwater springs and deep pools in a backdrop of mountainous serenity, the location is a perfect habitat for a Greenbrier Polar Bear. Sharing in the festivities in 2013, an estimated 1300 attendees watched the determined plungers quickly get in the bone-numbing drink, and just as quickly get out.
Founding member Christian Giggenbach created the event in loving tribute to his mother, Kay Sweet Giggenbach. Sadly, Kay passed away on March 8th, 2001. The Polar Bear Plunge honors her memory by being scheduled on the Saturday that falls closest to this March date each year. According to Christian, “My mother would have been overjoyed to watch all the crazy people jump in Blue Bend in the wintertime.”
Certainly possessing varying levels of craziness, 131 plungers dipped into the glacial conditions of Anthony Creek during last year’s fundraiser. Some came in full wetsuits, others in barely anything, and all survived the plunge without harm. Even Gumby and Wonder Woman participated, fitting right along with our local cast of characters and part time super-heroes, such as Lewisburg Mayor John Manchester, local celebrity Mark Bowe, Lawyer J.R. Morgan (see ad on page 14), and the Polar Bear Plunge’s own Christian Giggenbach.
After the last plunger reprieved themselves from the chilly waters, the 2013 Greenbrier Valley Polar Bear Plunge raised over $18,000 for the Child and Youth Advocacy Center (CYAC). Based in Lewisburg, the non-profit organization interviews and counsels sexually abused children in Pocahontas, Greenbrier, and Monroe counties. In addition, the CYAC helps aid in the prosecution and conviction of sexual offenders.
A food vendor will be on site during the day’s activities, with this year’s featured hosts being the scrumptious and popular When Pigs Fly BBQ (see ad on page 2). There will also be live music, with the delightful sounds of the Half Bad Bluegrass Band entertaining both plungers and the cheerleading passersby. Scott Yoak, an experienced stunt pilot, is scheduled to make a special fly-over appearance in a WWII P-51 Mustang Fighter Plane. The Greenbrier East Junior ROTC, which has been featured in past events, will once again perform the National Anthem before the start of the plunge.
Each plunger who raises at least $25 in sponsorships will receive a 2014 Polar Bear Plunge t-shirt. Fundraising packets can be obtained at the CYAC, Little Black Box Lingerie, or online at www.facebook.com/greenbrierpolarbear. Business sponsorships are also available. As in past years, 100% of all proceeds goes to benefit the CYAC. For more details on this well-attended and well-intended event, please call 304-645-4668.
– Craig Miller, LBSPY #50. (Feb 10-March 10, 2014)