Nearly 2,000 come out for annual Waterville Polar Plunge
WATERVILLE, Ohio (WNWO) —
Negative wind chills weren't going to stop an annual Waterville tradition.
Nearly 2,000 people jumped into the frigid Maumee River for this year's Polar Plunge.
"This is just a really fun event. Herb Mericle started the event in 1929, and it's just been a really fun tradition that our town has liked to uphold. I think a lot of people came out this year because we made it really known to the community that this is something fun that we can do. We had people from Michigan, from Sandusky, from Fremont come out this year. We're really excited about that," said Organizer Molly Good.
With normally 200-300 people participating, this year's Polar Plunge in Waterville used some added publicity to draw 1,800 men, women and even teenagers jump into the icy Maumee River.
"I kind of wanted to do it, just because I heard about it last year, but I saw it on TV, so I wanted to do it this year. The cold didn't bother me because I thought it'd be cooler if I could say I did it when it was super cold," declared first year participant, Gina Romstadt.
The event cleared out about as fast as everyone got out of the water, with everyone running to their warm blankets, cars or even warming stations nearby.
First responders were on hand for the risk of frostbite.
Fire Chief Patrick Wambo said, "Depending on the wind chill factor and the temperature outside, it's going to be about 10-15, maybe even 30 minutes. It depends on the person and the temperature of the air and water."
Numerous outdoor New Year's Day events were cancelled due to the extreme cold, but the 2018 Waterville Polar Plunge embraced it.
"I think a lot of people had that mindset. I also think that 2017 was kind of a rough year for a lot of people, so when they saw this event, they're like, you know what, 2018 is my year and this is the way we're going to kick it off. If I can do this, I can do anything," stated Good.
Fitting the event, Olaf from Frozen even made an appearance to watch the jumpers go into the water.