Polar Plunge returning for 2013

Published 3:51 pm Thursday, December 27, 2012

University of Alabama Frozen Tide hockey team coach Mike Quenneville, right, reacts as he and Frozen Tide assistant coach Ian Hebert enter the water during last year's Polar Plunge at Oak Mountain State Park. This year's event will be held on Jan. 26. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Packs of costumed characters will descend on the Oak Mountain State Park beach on Jan. 26 as the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics organization hosts its Polar Plunge.

This year will mark the third straight for the event, which has grown every year since its inception, said event organizer and Pelham police officer Debbie Sumrall.

“We had about 70 plungers last year, which was up from the first year,” Sumrall said, noting Pelham Mayor Gary Waters has been asking about signing up for the event for weeks.

At the previous two Polar Plunges, teams from across the Birmingham metropolitan area packed the OMSP beach wearing everything from police uniforms to giant banana costumes as they sprinted down the beach and into the chilly lake.

Several teams brought along large inflatable ducks, some dressed like superheroes and all were shivering after exiting the frosty water.

For 2013, event organizers are adding a Polar Bear Challenge to the day’s festivities. The challenge will begin at 9 a.m., and will present a 1-mile running course featuring 10 obstacles ranging from monster truck tire flips and football sleds to tricycle races and wall climbs.

At the end of the challenge, participants will swim to divers to obtain a flag and swim it back to the shore, Sumrall said.

The Polar Plunge will begin at 10 a.m., immediately after the Polar Bear Challenge.

Registration fees for the Polar Bear Challenge are $35 in advance and $40 the day of the event.

Registration for the Polar Plunge is $50, and includes a gym bag. Additional prizes will be awarded to participants who raise $250, $500, $750, $1,000 and $1,250.

All money raised during the event will benefit the Alabama Special Olympics.