On a sunny January day at Sandy Point State Park it is not unusual to see Darth Vader talking to Superman or the Jamaican bobsled team talking to a bunch of Disney characters.
This group of revelers braved the cold temperature to take the plunge into the Chesapeake Bay to support Special Olympics Maryland during the 22nd Polar Bear Plunge. Jason Schriml, a spokesman for the organization, said that participants help raise 2.4 million dollars during this past week and $35 million over the breath of 22 years.
Schriml said the Polar Bear Plunge has developed over the years and around 2002 a costume contest was added to give people different ways to participate in this unusual event. “Maybe because of the winter blues this gives people a different way to celebrate winter by being out in the cold and with people who share the same enthusiasm of plunging in the cold water”.
Special Olympics Maryland has an archive of photos to document the event and what Schriml describes as “a little pictorial walk back every year… One year we had a group of Star Wars and Star Trek enthusiasts, so it was it was like an internal battle.”
Among the thousands of plungers this year, there were first year bucket list plungers wearing matching clown noses and veteran plungers that have coordinated fashions for the past 15 years. Also making waves was Nolan Quinn of Parkton in his mankini. Quinn sported the Borat style swimsuit after loosing a bet with friends but they said they would share his noteworthy style next year.
"I've gone to the Plunge the last two years and I think the event is very nice, they manage to make running into the frigid water really fun and it's been a great success for the Special Olympics in terms of raising money and gaining publicity for the work they do. Losing the bet to wear the mankini bummed me out at first and had me a little red in the cheeks, but I'm glad I put that behind me and cracked a smile because now I have a tale-worthy tail end.”