By Mary-Justine Lanyon
The air temperature was warm, the lake was at 41 degrees. The sun was out – not a hint of rain, unlike last year’s PolaRotary Bear Plunge.
All told, 97 jumpers participated – including two hotel guests, who signed up at the last minute. This was the second highest number of jumpers in the 12 years the Plunge has taken place. Last year there were 84 and, in 2018, there were 106.
A total of 27 charities – including the Lake Arrowhead Rotary Foundation – will benefit. A first, unofficial total of funds raised is set at $40,000. “Not bad for a day at the beach,” said Barbara Doutt, who is tallying the pledge sheets.
The costumes were especially spectacular this year. The team from the Mountains Community Hospital Foundation – made up of Charlie Harrison, Dr. Van Martin, Cheri Altmeyer, Cynthia Bush, Cherie Pierson, deLynn Walker, Patrick Miller and Denise Swart – once again took first place in the team or ensemble category.
“Our theme is built around ‘Charlie’ every year,” Harrison said. Last year they were Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; this year they were the Charlie Brown gang.
Pig-Pen (aka Dr. Martin) took his “soap” into the lake with him and stayed there until Dr. Patrick Rains made his last jump. Ronda Rynda and Stacey Lippert – the emcees – kept tabs on him and announced his long soak to the crowd on the beach.
Second prize for a team was awarded to the Rim of the World Educational Foundation crayons and third place went to the Rim of the World Soroptimist International’s Loch Ness monster.
The costume, said President Cathy Kay, was repurposed from other materials – two yoga mats for the head and wetsuits for the body and tail.
Two honorable mention prizes went to the Wildhaven animals and the Knights of Columbus priests and nuns.
The Wildhaven “deer” frolicked his way into the lake while “skunk” Steve Keefe stopped to shake his tail prior to plunging. The priests and nuns were described as “biblical” by the emcees.
The prizes for individual costumes went to Bob McConnell in his Star Wars costume and Chief Ron Walls, sporting his County Fire uniform. The chief strolled into the lake, looking very dignified.
Prior to the jump, Pastor Randy Buecheler of Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church noted he has jumped in 11 of the 12 Plunges. “I do different events, including running marathons, every year to raise money for needy families,” he said. Last year he raised a total of $12,000. He hoped to raise $1,000 with his jump into the lake on Feb. 1.
Other charities benefiting from the Plunge were Special Olympics, Arrowhead Arts Association, the Rim High wrestling team and music program, Blue Jay Jazz Foundation, Project Alive, Mountain Humane Society, Sandals Church, UCLA Bruins scholarship, Mountain Sunrise Rotary Club, Rim of the World Historical Society, Mountain Counseling, the Elks Lodge and the Boys & Girls Club of the Mountain Communities.
The first $1,000 raised by each jumper or group is split between the Lake Arrowhead Rotary Foundation and the chosen charity; any funds above $1,000 go to the jumper or group’s charity.
There to protect the jumpers were the San Bernardino County Fire Department’s fire boat and an Arrowhead Lake Association patrol boat. Two paramedics were in the water by the shore in case anyone needed rescuing. Fortunately, their services were not required.
Mark your calendars for Feb. 6, 2021. If you are not crazy enough (that is, dedicated enough!) to jump, come to the beach at the Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa to cheer on the jumpers.