A Bracing Dip

The day started out cold – in the low teens. But then, just in time for the polar plunge, it got colder.

At 2 p.m., when some of the participants were having second thoughts, the temperature was 6 and a light, refreshing breeze put the wind chill factor at 3.

It was all for a good cause, though.

Major Ronald Starnes of the Salvation Army told the crowd that all money raised by the event would be used to help local people, and plungers entered the 33-degree water 20 at a time.

The first group in was the Northwest Savings Bank Men (and Women) in Black. Rich Laws of Northwest said it was his first time, but not his last. “It was cold, colder than I thought it would be,” he said “It was fun and I’m glad I did it.”

Even though the sled dog races were canceled, there were still plenty of husky action on Saturday. Demonstrations of one, two and four dog sleds had the excited huskies racing, and a series of weight pulls drew crowds before the plunge. There were also “Canicross” racing, with humans running cross-country behind leashed dogs.

Three members of Native American tribes sang social songs in the Mushers’ Cafe entertaining people that were warming themselves with soup, chili and sandwiches in front of a crackling fire.

The Allegany Singers from Allegany, N.Y., represented different tribes and clans. Kyle Doudy Jr., a Tuscarora of the Bear Clan, Kerwin Doudy, a Seneca Turtle Clan member, and Gonio Miller, who is also Turtle Clan from the Mohawk Nation, performed together.

Matt Boozer of Erie was with his niece Jessica Baccus of Warren. “I like it. We are really here to see the weight pull and the polar plunge,” he said.

Food was available on both sides of the lake and a number of ice fishermen and women were scattered across the lake. Helen Bogenschutz of Bradford was fishing with two companions and showed a stringer of eight nice trout. She said they had released at least two dozen more.

People came from all across the country, and two young children riding in a pulled sled were visiting from the United Kingdom.