Polar Fest Plunge draws 177 jumpers, raises record-high $58,500

A record amount was raised for the Boys and Girls Club of Detroit Lakes at the 26th Annual Polar Fest Plunge held Saturday, Feb. 26 in Detroit Lakes. Guest judges, the Cboys, capped off the day with a plunge of their own, bringing out a small slide mounted on a 4-wheeler to take the leap in style.

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Detroit Lakes Noon Rotary Club members Cara Frank, Dave Long and Travis Stone, left to right, led off Saturday's Polar Fest Plunge on Little Detroit Lake, after the club raised more than $6,000 for the Boys and Girls Club's 26th annual fundraiser.
Vicki Gerdes / Detroit Lakes Tribune

A total of 177 jumpers took the leap into the frozen waters of Little Detroit Lake this past Saturday, Feb. 26, for the 26th Annual Polar Fest Plunge. The plunge raised over $58,500 for the Boys and Girls Club of Detroit Lakes.

It was a record-setting afternoon for the club: Executive Director Pat Petermann noted that the total raised was the largest ever.

After a crowd-pleasing rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" by special guests Tigirlily, the Detroit Lakes Noon Rotary Club led the charge, with six jumpers taking the leap in two shifts to celebrate the club's accomplishment of raising more than $6,000.

North Dakota State football alum Ben Ellefson, who was also a special guest at the event, took the prize for gathering the largest group to take the plunge, with 23 of his Bison buddies making increasingly acrobatic leaps into the 4.5-foot-deep ice hole.

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The North Dakota State University Bison football team made a big impression at the 26th Annual Polar Fest Plunge in Detroit Lakes on Saturday, Feb. 26. A total of 23 players took the plunge along with special guest Ben Ellefson, a Bison alum and current member of the Minnesota Vikings.
Vicki Gerdes / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Wearing a goat costume, with Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" blasting over the speakers, Detroit Lakes Newspapers' own Jim Brogren took the leap on his 56th birthday; the music choice was an homage to the birthday he shares with the late country music legend.


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Detroit Lakes Newspapers' own Jim Brogren took the Polar Fest Plunge on Saturday, Feb. 26 — his 56th birthday — while wearing a goat costume (an homage to his Sugar Bush Goat Ranch). Brogren had raised over $2,700 to take the leap at the 26th annual fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Club of Detroit Lakes, which raised over $57,000 — a new record for the club.
Vicki Gerdes / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Brogren raised a total of $2,751 to take the leap, making him one of the top individual fundraisers. At the very top was TikTok star "That Midwestern Mom," Amber Estenson, who raised more than $7,000 and filmed a special message for her followers after she took the plunge, asking if they could raise $10,000 if she did it again next year.


I did it 🤣🤣🤣 over 7 THOUSAND dollars raised for the boys and girls club! #minnesota #midwest #winter #polarplunge

♬ original sound - That Midwestern Mom

Patriotic costumes were a favorite among this year's jumpers, several of whom took the leap in honor of the military, while others did so in honor of "our friends in the Ukraine."

Celebrity guest judges, the Cboys, local YouTube sensations, ended the event in style, bringing out a customized four-wheeler equipped with a slide that was positioned to the side of the ice hole so they could make the jump down into the water. The song "Born in the USA" was blasting from the loudspeakers as they did so.

A reporter at Detroit Lakes Newspapers since relocating to the community in October 2000, Vicki was promoted to Community News Lead for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and Perham Focus on Jan. 1, 2022. She has covered pretty much every "beat" that a reporter can be assigned, from county board and city council to entertainment, crime and even sports. Born and raised in Madelia, Minnesota, she is a graduate of Hamline University, from which she earned a bachelor's degree in English literature (writing concentration). You can reach her at
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