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Polar Plunge is coming up, commit now

Attention, community members! The time is now to sign up for the 18th annual Polar Fest Plunge, which is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 15 in Detroit Lakes.

There are two reasons to sign up early, according to Sue Trnka, resource development director for the Detroit Lakes Boys & Girls Club, which is the beneficiary of the annual community fundraiser.

The first is that those who sign up early will have more time to earn the fundraising incentives that are available for all “plungers” who take part in the annual event.

“The minimum pledge is $50, and for that, all plungers receive the official 2014 Polar Fest Plunge T-shirt,” she said.

Those who raise $250 will also, in addition to the t-shirt, receive a “very nice” commemorative beach towel that is embroidered with the Polar Fest logo.

For raising $500 in donations, each individual “plunger” will receive a $100 VISA gift card, while raising $1,000 will earn a $250 gift card in addition to the t-shirt and towel.

“Many of our expenses and prizes are underwritten by our generous community supporters,” she said, which enables donations to go directly to the club.

The second reason for early sign-up, Trnka added, is that “everyone who signs up by Feb. 4 is guaranteed to receive their commemorative T-shirt at the event.”

All fundraising incentives are for individuals only, Trnka noted; team members must raise these amounts individually in order to qualify for the prizes.

“The only things people can compete for, as a team, are the pontoon cruise and the costume contest,” Trnka added.

“The team raising the most money will win a half-day pontoon cruise in the summer of 2014,” she said.

The Polar Fest Plunge Costume Contest, meanwhile, is for both individuals and teams, said Boys & Girls Club Director Pat Petermann.

“Prizes are $200 for first place, $100 for second place and $50 for third, in each category,” he said.

“Our goal for this year is 250 jumpers,” Petermann added. “Last year we had 229. Our monetary goal is to raise $70,000 — last year we raised $68,000.

“All the proceeds will directly benefit our 600-plus members between the ages of 5-19,” he said. “We have an average daily attendance of 131, and we serve 131 snacks and 60 meals per day.”

Registration is open

The Boys & Girls Club website,, is accepting online registrations from now up until the cutoff date of Thursday, Feb. 13, Trnka said.

“To sign up, first download the fundraising tool kit,” she said.

The kit includes frequently asked questions, a list of fundraising incentives and more.

“If you miss the cutoff, you can also register on-site, at one of two times,” Trnka added.

“In-person registration and event check-in will be on Friday, Feb. 14 from 4 to 7 p.m., and Saturday, Feb. 16 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.,” she added, noting that those who registered online are asked to turn in their pledges and pick up their t-shirts and other incentive prizes during those same times.

“Every year we try to enhance the event for the participants,” Petermann added.

This year, one those improvements will take the form of a pre-Plunge warmup sauna, located in one of two storage pods set up adjacent to the hole in the ice where the Plunge will take place.

“Participants can warm up in the sauna before the Plunge,” Petermann explained.

Another improvement will be better, warmer post-Plunge changing facilities for the participants.

“There will be a heated men’s changing area in one of the storage pods, and the women will have our entire, 53-foot heated trailer to change in afterwards,” he said.

Another thing about the changing areas that has been improved this year, Trnka said, is that participants must either come to the event ready to plunge, or change inside the Pavilion’s restroom facilities. They will not be allowed into the changing areas before the event.

“We did that to avoid the bottlenecks in the changing areas that we had last year,” she said.

One other change to the Plunge itself has been made this year — there will be an intermission.

“We will pass the hat for donations at intermission, and that will be followed by a tug of war,” Trnka said.

“There will be two teams facing off over the hole in the ice — and one of them will to get wet,” Petermann promised.

“All of the donations raised on the ice will be matched,” Trnka added.

Raffle tickets on sale

In addition to the Plunge itself, the club also sponsors a raffle each year.

“We will be announcing our raffle winners after the Plunge has concluded,” said Petermann.

Raffle tickets are now available for $5 each at the Boys & Girls Club, located at 150 Richwood Road, Detroit Lakes.

“A total of 1,000 tickets will be sold, for prizes that include a $500 Central Market gift card, an ‘Astro-Start’ with installation from Nereson’s, a pizza per month for one year from Papa Murphy’s, and a $100 gas gift card from Cenex,” Petermann added.

Costume contest winners also will be announced, and prizes awarded, after the Plunge has concluded, Trnka added.

‘Plunge Party’ festivities

As has been the tradition for several years now, the Boys & Girls Club will be hosting a “Plunge Party” on Saturday, Feb. 15 at the Detroit Lakes Pavilion.

The Knights of Columbus will start off the Pavilion festivities with a pancake and French toast breakfast from 7 to 10:30 a.m.

The Detroit Lakes Jaycees will serve brats, hot dogs, chips, chili, soft drinks and beer from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and when the Plunge starts at 1 p.m., party guests can enjoy a live television feed of the festivities inside the Pavilion.

“Throughout the event there will be kids’ games and activities inside the Pavilion, run by our club staff,” Petermann said.

“This year, following the Plunge, wwe will have a bean bag tournament in the Pavilion as well, starting at around 2:30 p.m.,” said Trnka.

Polar Fest “swag” will also be available for sale at the Pavilion throughout the day, Petermann said, including hats, T-shirts, towels and more.

Commemorative Polar Fest beer steins will also be available for $30 each — if there are any left.

“The steins are already in,” Petermann said, but only 200 of them were made, and once they’re sold, they’re gone.

“They’re a limited edition,” he added. “They are available at Lakeside Tavern, Bleachers Bar & Grill, and BJ’s Barbecue Shack, as well as at the club.”

Those who purchase them can use the steins for drink specials at the participating businesses — specifically, 2-for-1 beer taps.

“Those who bring their steins to the Pavilion on the day of the Plunge can use them for specials at the Jaycees booth,” Trnka added.

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Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454