Over a hundred brave polar bear plungers plopped in the 32 degree Maui Jim pond water this afternoon, raising $62,000 for the South Side Mission's homeless shelter for women and children. The cold, but heart-warming community event has now raised over $500,000 for the homeless shelter. And congratulations to Matt Dryden of Peoria, who was drawn as the winner of the Maui Jim prize pack, featuring their world class sunglasses.
Once again, the South Side Mission's Phil Newton led the pack in single file down the ramp (walking the plank?) into the frigid water. The Mission's Meg Newell plunged for the second time. It was my fifth such swim, while I was joined this year by late night GLO rocker Andy Savage, who was dressed as wrestling star Randy "Macho Man" Savage.
While the air and water temperatures were almost identical (34 and 32 degrees), the water didn't seem as cold this year, probably because the wind chill was in the teens as the divers and spectators shivered during the pre-plunge ceremonies, which included a beautiful rendition of our National Anthem by Megan Cipolla. I love how the host employees of Maui Jim Sunglasses really get behind the event. They all seemed to be in costumes and welcomed us to their work place with smiles. And thanks to Papa Murphy's Pizza for providing all the swimmers, spectators and volunteers with warm pizza afterward. Looking forward to doing it again in 2014!