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Polar Plunge celebrates its 10th anniversary Saturday at waterfront

It's been 10 years since Polar Plunge organizers first invited area residents to go jump in the lake.

In February.

In Minnesota.

After taking up to a decade to recover, or perhaps just to forget exactly how refreshing that lake water feels this time of year, several Polar Plunge alumni will do it again starting 1 p.m. on Saturday.

For the good of the Boys and Girls Club on the 10th anniversary of the Polar Plunge.

Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce President Dave Hochhalter and City Engineer Gary Nansen are plunging again after 10 years. Former Boys and Girls Club member Ron Wicker is plunging in support of the club that he once attended as a child.

Hochhalter sent out a challenge weeks ago that if people donated $500, he'd jump.

"I think I underestimated the willingness of people to see me jump... Or maybe their willingness to support a good cause."

Regardless, he might be rethinking how much he had set as his goal. He's close to $700 in pledges, and wouldn't mind hitting the $1,000 mark. A goal that could be reached if people donate enough to see him in their costume of choice. Within reason, or course.

Hochhalter hasn't jumped since 1996, but he said he's as ready as he's going to get for Saturday's event.

"I looked at video from '96, and I saw the expression on my face, and I thought, 'I'm going to do that again?'"

He said he decided he lived though it once, he's hoping he's as successful one more time. One success he's still looking for, though, is points for style. There's an art to it, he said. It's not just a jump.

After reviewing his 1996 plunge, "my wife was quick to point out I didn't have much of an individual style."

But he's working on it for this year.

Nansen said he's not planning on any costumes for his anniversary plunge.

"I'm just going to put on a swimming suit and just feel the cold. There's not going to be any insulation on this body."

Jumping in the lake isn't anything new for Nansen. Although he hasn't jumped for the Boys and Girls Club since 1996, he has jumped in the freezing lake since then. But the 10th anniversary brought him back on behalf of the club this year.

"Just because I did it the first time, I tried to get some of the other guys (to jump again)," he said. "I thought, what the heck, once again."

And the award for the most money raised (or at least a goal he's set) will likely go to Wicker. Every year, Wicker brings his fish houses to the lake for warming houses, and this year he decided was the year to take the plunge and use his own houses.

"The time wasn't right before, now it is," he said.

One of the main reasons -- his employer, BTD, has agreed to match a portion of his funds. BTD's cap is $10,000 in matching funds, and that's what Wicker is aiming for. As of Tuesday afternoon, he said he's over $5,000.

Another reason is the opportunity to support the club that he's known all his life.

"All my life, that's where we hung out, playing basketball and sledding. To this day, I still slide down that hill."

To encouraging his BTD co-workers to donate, Wicker said all those who donate at least $5 will have their names go into a drawing for a chance to win $500 -- if he wins. Those jumpers that raise over $250 are up for the chance to win $1,000. Wicker said if he wins, half will go to whoever wins the BTD drawing and half to his daughter, Donna, who is jumping with him.

The day of the jump, Wicker plans to stand along West Lake Drive with kids from the Boys and Girls Club. He said he's hoping those that pass will donate $5, even if they can't stop and watch the jumpers.

But who wouldn't want to stop and see a bunch of people jumping into the frozen waters of Detroit Lakes in amusing costumes? In their own individual style jump, of course.