Changes in store for Polar Bear Plunge

Panel seeks ways to keep up with growing numbers at Williamsport event

Panel seeks ways to keep up with growing numbers at Williamsport event

December 23, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Changes are afoot for the Polar Bear Plunge, which has grown from a small event to a popular tradition.

A committee is looking at ways to keep up with the increasing number of participants and spectators for the event, which is held each year at Williamsport's River Bottom Park.

On New Year's Day, people gather to walk, wade and frolic in the Potomac River. At least 100 people went in the water on Jan. 1, 2009.

Williamsport Councilman Tim Fraker said the committee is trying to "make it into something bigger and better."

As the crowd has gotten bigger, parking has become more difficult. About a dozen county fire police are scheduled to be on hand next Friday to supervise, he said.


Event organizers want parking to be more organized so emergency crews can get in and out if they need to, Katherine Cooker of the Humane Society of Washington County said.

Williamsport Clerk/Treasurer Donnie Stotelmyer said there will be two tents -- one for men, one for women -- for participants to change their clothes or just keep warm.

The plunge is held each year as a fundraiser for the Humane Society.

Cooker said about 165 people registered for the last event. Some other people went in the water without signing up.

Conococheague Little League is providing bleachers for spectators to watch the next plunge, she said.

Spectators will be directed to an area apart from participants, who will wear armbands, Stotelmyer said.

The Red Men Riders Club from Tribe 84 in Williamsport, of which Fraker is president, will help with crowd control.

The event will start at noon.

Prizes will be given to the top pledge collectors and to the oldest and youngest participants.

If You Go

What: Polar Bear Plunge

Where: River Bottom Park in Williamsport

When: Jan. 1, noon

To register in advance, call 301-733-2060, ext. 239, or to go

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