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Polar Plunge gets $10,000 matching grant

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Detroit Lakes,Minnesota 56501
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Polar Plunge gets $10,000 matching grant
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

The Detroit Lakes Boys & Girls Club has been growing by leaps and bounds lately, with membership jumping to over 450 kids this year.


"That's an increase of 30 percent (over the past year)," said Jeff Aafedt, president of the club's board of directors.

With participation in its after school and summer activity programs more than doubled, the club is more in need of community support than ever, noted Pat Petermann, the executive director.

And that's where the Polar Plunge comes in. The club's 11th annual fund raiser -- in which participants "take the plunge" into the icy waters of Little Detroit Lake -- is set to take place on Saturday, Feb. 10.

Once again, the Lakeside Tavern will serve as headquarters for the event, with registration getting underway at 11 a.m. The first "plungers" will take to the water at 1 p.m.

Last year's Polar Plunge was "very successful," raising $38,000 for the club's facilities and programs and drawing 75 participants, Petermann noted.

"It's our biggest fund raiser of the year," he added, noting that last year, it accounted for about 20 percent of the club's $200,000 annual budget.

This year, the club is hoping to at least match that amount, and hopefully exceed it -- a task that was made a little less daunting this past week.

BTD Manufacturing, which is based in Detroit Lakes, has agreed to match the first $10,000 raised by participating businesses, dollar for dollar.

"We're calling it the 'Race to $10,000,'" said James Vogt, director of continuous improvement and planning for BTD Manufacturing. But if the full match is raised, the club will actually receive $20,000.

"We're confident that (raising the full match amount) will happen," Vogt said.

"No donation is too small... especially when it's being matched by BTD," Aafedt added.

Petermann said he had already begun receiving "lots of phone calls" about the Plunge.

"There's a lot of interest there," he said.

And for those who do sign up, there is a little added incentive to raise as many pledge dollars as they can.

"For every $250 in pledges you get, you will receive one entry in our $1,000 cash prize drawing," Petermann said. "There will also be a costume contest, with $50 going to the first place winner, and $25 to the second place winner."

And for those who decide to participate at the last moment, without time to raise pledges for their jump, they can sign up to take the plunge for $25 -- which will also get them a free t-shirt and a $25 gift card from Lakeside Tavern.

Saturday's Polar Plunge will be the climactic event of the community's Polar Fest celebration, which officially kicks off on Thursday, Feb. 8 with a Native Harvest dinner (6 p.m., Holmes Theatre Ballroom), Jaycees Chili Feed (6-8 p.m., outside the DL Pavilion), and a pond hockey game (7 p.m., Little Detroit Lake near the Pavilion).

Friday's (Feb. 9) festivities will include the Daddy's Little Sweetheart Dance (6 p.m., Historic Holmes Theatre) and the Lakes Open Bonspiel at the Lakes Curling Club (which continues on Saturday and Sunday).

Saturday, Polar Fest gets into full swing, with the "Freeze Your Buns" Run starting at 9 a.m. in front of the Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center. After the Polar Plunge at 1 p.m., the DLCCC will also sponsor the unique "Ice Tee" Golf Tournament, starting at 2:30 p.m. on Lake Detroit, and there will be sleigh rides starting in front of the DL Pavilion from 2-4 p.m.

Then, the action shifts back to the Historic Holmes Theatre, where Eric Riehle "and guest" will present the free show, "An Evening With a Regular Joe" at 7 p.m. This show will be followed by a dance sponsored by the Lakes Area Parrotheads, with "tropical treats" to be served, starting at 8:30 p.m.

The Holmes Theatre will also host a recital on Sunday, Feb. 11, at 2 p.m., to conclude the Polar Fest schedule.

Other ongoing activities throughout the weekend will include free ice skating at the Lincoln (outdoor) rink and the Freeman Arena (indoor) rink; a kids' art show at the Washington Square Mall; a scavenger hunt and more.

For more information, call the Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce at 218-847-9202, or visit the Web site,

Vicki Gerdes
Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 14 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as obituaries. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.
(218) 844-1454