MEDICINE PARK — About 200 people braved the not-quite-freezing water of Bath Lake last Saturday to take part in Medicine Park’s annual Polar Plunge. It’s the thought that counts, right?
This year, the brave and hearty cavalcade of characters usually associated with the Polar Plunge didn’t have to worry about low temperatures, ice or snow, as the temperature at jump time was near 60 degrees.
Another 200-300 people watched as the plungers, dressed in costumes and swimming suits, made their leap into the water and immediately retreated onshore, Medicine Park Mayor Roger Johnson said.
The plunge isn’t designed to benefit a charity or non profit. It’s just something to do and an attraction for the city, drawing people from as far away as Rhode Island, Michigan and Florida.
“This year was one of the biggest we’ve seen, and we’ve been here for almost all of them,” the mayor said. “This is a reason to come party.”
Jumpers paraded down East Lake Drive about 2 p.m. and quickly made their plunge into the lake about 10 minutes later. Within seconds, most of the plungers made their way out of the water, dried off and began to enjoy Medicine Park’s restaurants, bars and shops.
“There are a few who want to prove their machismo and swim into the lake,” Johnson said.
In previous years, Johnson has witnessed jumpers dressed in animal costumes, tuxedos, Christmas outfits such as Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, elves, other cartoon characters and typical swimsuits.
“You name it and they’re wearing it,” he said.
In some cases, the plunge hasn’t gone according to plan. In one instance, the temperature was so cold organizers were forced to postpone the annual event for a week. In another instance, the event was delayed a day because the ice on the lake was too thick.
Medicine Park’s weekend rental housing is typically booked for the weekend the first Saturday in February, Johnson said. It’s also a booming weekend for all restaurants, bars and shops that call Medicine Park home.
“We have friends from Oklahoma City who come down here just for this one event,” he said. “People who have come through here before found out about the Polar Plunge and return for this.”