Winterfest has become region’s largest winter event

Spectators at Saturday’s Polar Bear Plunge, part of the 2013 Warren County Winterfest, might say I got lucky with the weather.

I definitely wouldn’t argue.

Temperatures were in the mid-40’s when it came time for me to take the plunge with members of Grizzly Gary’s Camo Bikini Plunge Team and the Northwest Savings Bank rock stars, but I wasn’t disappointed.

Despite the lack of snow, it seemed as though spectators were just as excited to watch the plunge as they would have been any other year.

As 2 p.m. rolled around, participants gathered at the top of the hill just above Chapman Dam beach and waited for their group to be called down to the waterfront; a wait that seemed like hours.

With the wind occasionally whipping through the open field, the group I was in trotted down to the beach where we stood waiting to be the first to spring into the icy waters.

With Grizzly Gary as the emcee, we stood at the water’s edge waiting for the count down to begin.

My thoughts ran wild.

10… 9…

I’m already freezing, how am I going to do this?

8… 7…

Is my headcam turned on?

6… 5…

I was living in Florida four months ago.

4… 3…

Oh hey, there’s Major Starnes in his hip waders. Why didn’t I get a pair of those?

2… 1…

Oh, yeah, they wouldn’t do me any good anyway. I have to go under the wa….


Needless to say, I kept my promise to dive under the water for all those who so graciously donated to the Salvation Army just to watch me plunge.

I was under the water in about five steps.

Whether or not it was by choice or because my legs gave out due to the cold, I’ll never tell.

What I will tell you is this: the people who say the Polar Bear Plunge is invigorating definitely weren’t lying. I could feel every inch of my body as I splashed through the water past the Glade VFD Technical Rescue Team members towards John Beard who was standing at the furthest point in the water video-taping like a madman.

The Warren County School District administrative team led by Brandon Hufnagel kept their promise as well, bravely going where no central office administrator would prefer to go.

When all was said and done, several waves of participants took their turns running into the frigid waters. Some ran arms waving in the air into water up to their waist while others ran out to touch the ice at the end of the hole carved out by the Glade VFD Technical Rescue Team.

As I dried off and watched the rest of the plungers hustle back up the hill, I couldn’t help but think that this was definitely a great way to start off the year.

(Footage of Winterfest is now available on individual articles as well as on Brian’s blog. You can find his blog at )