Chatham-Kent police Const. Jason Herder vowed to stop looking at the weather forecast for Saturday.
Every time he did, he said it looked just a little colder than the last time, and his friends and fellow polar plungers joked he’s jinxing them.
Herder, lead organizer for the third annual Freezin’ for a Reason polar plunge, which takes place this Saturday and raises funds for Special Olympics Ontario, said regardless, it won’t be as cold as last year, where bone chilling temperatures made things, well, very brief in terms of time in the water.
And the wind and snow really hit participants as they climbed out of the pool at St. Clair College.
This time around, as of press time, Environment Canada was calling for temperatures around the freezing mark in the middle of the afternoon when the first round of plungers hit the water at 2 p.m.
But the mercury will dip as the sun goes down. Herder and the second team of plungers dip starting at 6 p.m.
“It’s not going to be as crazy as last year. That was crazy cold,” he said. “But it will still be cold. We fill the pool the night before, so it’s going to be nice and cold when we go into the water.”
Why do participants take the plunge? It’s all for Special Olympics Ontario.
In 2018, the inaugural Chatham plunge raised about $14,000. Last year, the total soared to about $41,500, Herder said.
“The first year, we planned it from about a month and a half out. Once the plunge was done, I had a lot of people messaging me asking how they could be involved,” he said.
So the second year saw planners get serious earlier in the fall. Herder set a goal of $20,000 and participants shattered it.
“We had 50 total plungers the first year and 122 last year,” he said. “We had lots of great fundraising by the people who took the plunge.”
This year’s goal is aggressive, Herder said, as they are aiming for $50,000.
By the beginning of this week, online pledges had totaled more than $26,000, he said.
People can pledge anytime online, plus there are still pledge forms to tabulate, as many jumpers still raise funds the old-fashioned in-person way.
“I think $40,000 is doable; $50,000 is a stretch. If it’s in the 40s, I’d consider that an absolute success,” he said.
Topping $50,000 would make the Chatham-Kent plunge the top one in the province. Herder said Windsor and Kingston, cities with much bigger populations, were the only centres in the province to top C-K last year.
Herder said if they manage to hit $50,000, they would put friendly pressure on other plunges to top that mark.
“We’re the first one that goes in the year. We want to set the bar high,” he said.
Herder said the event would feature more than the brave souls hopping into bone-chillingly cold water. There’s a DJ playing, food, warm beverages and “lots of entertainment.”
“If you just wanted to come out and spectate, you are more than welcome,” he said. “We’ve got coffee, lunch, a raffle and more.”
In term of celebrity plungers, Herder said Mayor Darrin Canniff, who plunged last year with his wife Christine, tweeted recently he planned on doing it again.
“I’m going to hold him to his tweet,” Herder said.
Councillors Amy Finn and Trevor Thompson are also confirmed to take the dip.
And there is still time to get involved.
“Anyone that wants to sign up can do so online at http://www.polarplunge.ca/ to register for the event,” he said. “You can also register in person as that will start at noon on the day of the plunge and we will have that open all day.”
And for those who want to take part, but can’t bring themselves to hop into the cold water, Herder said organizers have you covered.
“We also have a ‘Too Chicken to Plunge’ option. We will have a hot tub on site. We’ll give you a rubber chicken and you can throw that into the pool and hop into the hot tub,” he said.