Posted: Feb 7, 2014 10:34 AM by Lee Anne Denyer, KOMU 8 Reporter
Updated: Feb 7, 2014 11:22 AM
COLUMBIA - A frozen lake won't stop hundreds of plungers from submerging themselves in the icy water of Stephen's Lake Park Saturday.
Columbia Parks and Recreation cleared snow and started cutting out a section of ice in the lake Friday morning to ensure the annual Polar Plunge is a go.
Crews used chainsaws and a backhoe to cut and remove a 20 by 20 section of ice from the lake. Crews started work just before 10 a.m.
It is the first time Parks and Recreation has completed this type of project. Parks Services Manager Dave Huffington said he expected crews to work throughout the afternoon.
"I don't anticipate it'll be too difficult, if we run into ice that's a lot deeper than eight inches that'll be a problem, " Huffington said. "If it's all right there between six to eight it shouldn't be too big of an issue."
With the ice cleared, the crucial fundraiser for Special Olympics should run without a hitch.
Crystal Schuster, development manager for Special Olympics Missouri said she doesn't anticipate the low temperatures to steer people away from plunging.
"Online registration seems to be about where we were last year," Shuster said Friday morning. "We've gotten a lot of calls if we're still having the event. We started preregistration at 9 and already 16 plungers have checked in."
The Polar Plunge is the Special Olympics Missouri's largest event. Plungers raise a minimum of $75 to dive into the icy lake. The donation also gets plungers a sweatshirt, necessary for subsequent bragging rights. The organization hosts 14 other plunges throughout Missouri and relies on the events for providing a large portion of the organization's budget.
"Without people coming out and raising money we wouldn't be able to put on events that we do," Shuster said.
Money raised at events like the Polar Plunge go toward registration fees for athletes and for hosting events like April's spring games at Rock Bridge High School.