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Dozens take annual New Year's Day plunge in Maumee River

(WTVG)
Published: Jan. 1, 2020 at 9:37 PM EST
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It's a New Year's Day tradition that's not for the faint of heart.

"It's extremely cold," swimmer Nick Cranston said.

For the 91st year people from around the area jumped into the Maumee River on Wednesday for the "Polar Bear Plunge." This year they took the leap in Perrysburg Township at Buttonwood Recreation Area.

"It takes your breath away, but it's slightly invigorating," swimmer Jodi Recker said.

Recker and her family took the plunge together for the very first time this year.

"I went down and it just took my breath away," Recker's son said. "Oh, it was crazy."

Meanwhile, others like Russ Vascik are seasoned veterans and return for more each year.

"I get in, I come out and I feel like a whole new person," Vascik said. "It's great."

This year Vascik and a team of nine set up camp on the banks of the Maumee River and made a day out of the festivities.

"We've got hot dogs from Rudy's Hot Dogs," Vascik said. "We've got shirts made up for us. It's a great time."

The now beloved ritual started back in 1929 when the late Herb Mericle of Waterville took a quick dip in the river on New Year's Day. Now nearly 100 years later the tradition is still going strong as people of all ages continue to take the plunge and welcome in a new year.

"It's one of those bucket list things," swimmer Michael Recker said. "You got to say that you did a polar plunge at least once in your years."

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