Humane Society of Washington County hosts annual Polar Bear Plunge at Greenbrier
BOONSBORO — Those who love animals are willing to go to extremes Saturday for the annual Polar Bear Plunge at Greenbrier State Park.
With forecasts predicting a high of 31 degrees Saturday, Jan. 12, supporters of the Humane Society of Washington County will gather on Greenbrier Lake to brace the icy waters as a way to raise funds.
But this year, whether Polar Bear Plungers will plunge or dip will have to be the call of the state park.
Noel Fridgen, Humane Society of Washington County communications and digital fundraising manager, said the park has been having some problems with its dam.
“So they’ve been testing different waters levels as time has gone on and we will not know until exactly that day what the water levels will look like,” she explained. “It will definitely be something. You might be able to go all out or you might just be dipping your toes in and running back out. It’ll be a good time and we’ll be happy to go back to Greenbrier again.”
Teresa Dick, who is on the Polar Bear Plunge committee, said there still will be plenty of things to do that day. This year there are plans for a Zumba class before hand “to just get everyone in the mood,” she said.
There will also be a costume contest with prizes.
Registration begins at 10:30 a.m. with plunging (or dipping) at noon, which will occur in three waves.
Dick has not only helped with the event, but has also participated. And, she said, she had a regiment to get herself ready for the temperatures.
“About a month before I would go outside with the dogs without a coat in just T-shirt and jeans, then taking colder showers to just get used to the cold,” she said.
Fridgen was surprised.
“I wonder if anyone else trains like that?” she asked.
Dick said, “I’ll do it again in the heartbeat.”
To help warm people up before and after, Fridgen said there will be heaters in tents.
If it gets “extremely frigid” Fridgen said they will have to cancel the event, but “we brave it.”
”It has to be very, very, very extreme for us to cancel,” she said.
Dick said what she loved about the event was just participating.
”I enjoyed it because I got to cross it off my bucket list and to say I did it,” she said. And for the animals, that’s the reason I do it, for the animals.”
And, she said she’s not alone.
”A lot of people who do it, they do it every year for the animals,” she said.
Last year’s event netted around $30,000, according to Fridgen, which goes to the direct care and treatment for animals at the Humane Society.
“We receive over 6,000 animals in our shelter each year. As you imagine, it’s pretty costly to care for them. That money goes into our general operating budget,” she said.
And Fridgen said the Humane Society is an open admissions shelter, “which means we are required to accept every animal that comes to us.”
To help with some costs, the Humane Society increased its veterinarian staff about a year ago to allow more in-house surgeries instead of having them leave the facility, Fridgen said.
Participants can still sign up. The cost is $25 in advance; $30 the day of. Fundraising is encouraged.
The women said the whole plunge takes about 15 minutes.
”It’s probably the shortest event you’ll ever go to,” Fridgen said.
Top photo: Polar Bear plungers make their way out of the icy waters at Greenbrier State Park Lake during the 2018 Annual Humane Society of Washington County Polar Bear Plunge. (Herald-Mail file photo)