Hundreds jump in Maumee River to celebrate 2014 - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Hundreds jump in Maumee River to celebrate 2014

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From jumping into the Maumee River to cross country skiing, folks braved the cold and snow to have some fun on the first day of the New Year.

Since it's a holiday, most people didn't have to go anywhere on Wednesday and drive on the slushy roads.

But in Waterville, hundreds took a dip in the Maumee River as part of the 85th annual Polar Bear Plunge.

"It's freezing and I can all these pins.  It feels like pins and needles all over me," says Anna Strayer, a fearless swimmer from Waterville.

The water was warmer than the air.  It was 16 degrees outside.  The water was a balmy 32 degrees.

 "I feel frozen! It's great, though," says Bob Dennie who took jumped in the Maumee River at Memorial Park with his son and father-in-law. "It's a tradition. I've been a Waterville resident my whole life."

It's considered a symbolic, cleansing, exhilarating start to ring in the new year. The late Herb Mericle began the tradition in 1929.

"It helps get rid of everything bad," says Mike Hill of Waterville who this year took his 20th jump. "Let's start the New Year in a good way. {Mericle} did it to celebrate when he got married to start the year out that way. It breaks the monotony of winter."

At Wildwood Metropark off of Central Avenue, the artistic director of the Ballet Theatre of Toledo kept his clothes on to go cross country skiing.

"I love this weather. I just love the snow," says Nigel Burgoine as he gets ready to ski. "This is the best exercise in the world and Wildwood is just fabulous. It's gorgeous."

For some drivers, this weather wasn't so glorious.

The man at the wheel of a van ended up sliding into a ditch on U.S. 24 and had to wait for a tow truck to bail him out.

Many South Toledo homeowners got ready for the long haul of clearing the driveway in anticipation of the week's expected snowfall.

"I thought I'd get a little head start, get a couple inches off," says Rob Abele as he took a quick break from using a snow blower to clear his driveway. "We get a couple more, I'll have to do it again."

Jill Kuczynski started her day shoveling.

"Of course, I was just cussing at the snow blower because I can't get it to start," says Kuczynski.  "Right now I think it's awful. My dog loves the snow, though, so I said, ‘I'm going to get you outside.'"

Kuczynski's husband came to the rescue.  He fixed the snow blower and the couple turned the driveway drudgery into teamwork.

 "I like snow. I really do. I just don't want to shovel it," says Kuczynski.

If you live in Toledo, remember that sidewalks must be shoveled within 24 hours of a snowfall.  Otherwise, you could face a fine.

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