"Polar bears" celebrate 2013 by taking the plunge - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

"Polar bears" celebrate 2013 by taking the plunge

Posted: Updated:

Nearly three hundred people braved the chilly waters of the Maumee River in Waterville this New Year's Day for the annual Polar Bear Plunge.

The water was warmer than the air.  It was 24 degrees outside at Memorial Park at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday.  The water, according to the Waterville Fire Chief, was 34 degrees.

 "Cold!" says Deitra Hickey as she walks out of the river.

"I was already sick so I figured I didn't have anything to lose," says her husband John Hickey.

They took a dip as part of the 84th annual Polar Bear Plunge.

 "It was cold, really cold," says 11-year-old Eryn Blair of Whitehouse. This is her second year taking the plunge and she says she does it "for the rush."

It's a tradition that began back in 1929 by the late Herb Mericle.

"He was doing this to kind of break up the monotony of winter and then later on in life when he married his wife, he started going in at 2:30 because that's the time they got married," says Mike Hill, the event organizer.

"His son used to ride with us and the last year Herbie went, I kneeled down with him, told him I'd do it as long as my body would let me," says Keith Baldwin, who marked his 29th year doing the Polar Bear Plunge on New Year's Day.

Catherine Gruenwald of Waterville crossed the polar plunge off her bucket list last year.  This year she's helping her son and his friends.

"I've got the towels and the blankets," says Gruenwald.  "I'm the equipment mom."

Two guys who are home on leave from their military service waded into the water.

"I can't feel my toes right now. I hope they get feeling in a little bit," says Ryan Horner who is from Perrysburg and serves in the Air Force. "It wasn't too bad."

"This was something that was always on my bucket list and I accomplished it," says Aaron Newman who is from Toledo and serves in the Navy. 

These brave people call the swim colder than last year but just as exhilarating.  They also consider it a symbolic start to 2013.

"It is kind of cleansing to bring on a fresh year," says Michael Wheating.

Folks in Northwood also took the plunge, taking part in "Fred's Second Annual Polar Bear Plunge" with proceeds going to children and staff and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

They say bearing the cold temperatures for a good cause is a great way to kick off 2013. More than $1,000 was raised during the event.

  • LocalMore>>

  • Former Monroe Co. 4-H leader facing child pornography charges

    Former Monroe Co. 4-H leader facing child pornography charges

    Thursday, August 28 2014 5:28 PM EDT2014-08-28 21:28:16 GMT
    50-year-old Robert Stumpmier was already scheduled to go to trial next month for accusations of sex crimes with a 16-year-old boy.
    50-year-old Robert Stumpmier was already scheduled to go to trial next month for accusations of sex crimes with a 16-year-old boy.

  • Authorities investigation 3 bus accidents

    Authorities investigation 3 bus accidents

    Thursday, August 28 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-08-28 21:15:39 GMT
    The start of the school year is off to a bumpy start for some kids riding the bus, after 3 bus accidents in less than 24 hours. A bus driver even received a ticket for one accident. Sylvania Township police say a truck driver did not yield at a stop sign for the bus and the two collided. This happened near Cory and Springbrook. None of the junior high students on the bus were hurt. The truck driver was taken to the hospital with neck and back injuries. Yesterday a Washington local school bus ...
    The start of the school year is off to a bumpy start for some kids riding the bus, after 3 bus accidents in less than 24 hours. A bus driver even received a ticket for one accident. Sylvania Township police say a truck driver did not yield at a stop sign for the bus and the two collided. This happened near Cory and Springbrook. None of the junior high students on the bus were hurt. The truck driver was taken to the hospital with neck and back injuries. Yesterday a Washington local school bus ...
  • Local program that feeds children gets big boost from the state

    Local program that feeds children gets big boost from the state

    Thursday, August 28 2014 4:46 PM EDT2014-08-28 20:46:38 GMT
    Tens of thousands of children live at or below the poverty level in Lucas County. For many of them, that often means going hungry. That's where Feed Lucas County Children comes in. The program feeds just over five thousand children daily. The organization is working to feed even more children but they can't do that without help. Every day is busy in the Feed Lucas County Children kitchen. Even though they serve thousands of meals, Executive Director Tony Siebeneck says they're only reaching...
    Tens of thousands of children live at or below the poverty level in Lucas County. For many of them, that often means going hungry. That's where Feed Lucas County Children comes in. The program feeds just over five thousand children daily. The organization is working to feed even more children but they can't do that without help. Every day is busy in the Feed Lucas County Children kitchen. Even though they serve thousands of meals, Executive Director Tony Siebeneck says they're only reaching...
  • Top StoriesMore>>

  • Put-In-Bay bar manager indicted for rape

    Put-In-Bay bar manager indicted for rape

    Thursday, August 28 2014 1:09 PM EDT2014-08-28 17:09:08 GMT
    An Ottawa County grand jury has indicted a Put-In-Bay bar manager on rape charges.Christopher Blessing is accused of raping a co-worker. Blessing faces two rape charges from an incident back in May. The victim told police that after work she was invited out for drinks with Blessing. She told police she didn't remember anything until 2:30am when she says the sexual assault happened. The victim went to a Michigan hospital later that next night and that's when police were notified. Blessing appe...
    An Ottawa County grand jury has indicted a Put-In-Bay bar manager on rape charges.Christopher Blessing is accused of raping a co-worker. Blessing faces two rape charges from an incident back in May. The victim told police that after work she was invited out for drinks with Blessing. She told police she didn't remember anything until 2:30am when she says the sexual assault happened. The victim went to a Michigan hospital later that next night and that's when police were notified. Blessing appe...
  • Blade Briefing 8/28/14

    Blade Briefing 8/28/14

     

  • Former Monroe Co. 4-H leader facing child pornography charges

    Former Monroe Co. 4-H leader facing child pornography charges

    Thursday, August 28 2014 5:28 PM EDT2014-08-28 21:28:16 GMT
    50-year-old Robert Stumpmier was already scheduled to go to trial next month for accusations of sex crimes with a 16-year-old boy.
    50-year-old Robert Stumpmier was already scheduled to go to trial next month for accusations of sex crimes with a 16-year-old boy.

Area Events Calendar

See It, Shoot It, Send It!