Seneca River chills to 30 degrees for Polar Bear Plunge

Polar Plunge in Baldwinsville

About 150 people braved 30 degree water temperatures on Seneca River to take part in the Polar Bear Plunge on Saturday, a big part of the Baldwinsville Big Chill Weekend.

Now in its sixth year, the two days of the Big Chill Weekend benefit the Greater Baldwinsville Chamber of Commerce and two local charities, Ronald McDonald House Charities of CNY and the Central New York Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Saturday's Polar Bear Plunge was a true test of will, as people jumped into 30 degree water in Seneca River, all raising money for the charities above. Recent cold temperatures iced over much of the river, so a section had to be chopped up so people had a place to jump in. Those near zero temperatures caused organizers to take extra precautions to keep people safe, including only allowing a few plungers in the water at a time.

Baldwinsville Heating and Air Conditioning supplied heat that made it almost 80 degrees in the tents, a welcome oasis for the plungers. The organizers even brought cold weather experts in to patrol the icy water.

"We have a State Police dive team in the water as the plungers go in, as well as the ambulance core on sight, as well as the fire department," Sharon Riser, Executive Director of the Big Chill, says.

Despite the fact that jumping into icy cold water not only was uncomfortable but kind of insane, the plungers felt it was worth it to support a good cause.

"It's fun to do something crazy, it's crazy and safe, but where the money is going is definitely worth the challenge of doing it," KC Pickard, Baldwinsville Fire Chief, says.

Several plungers said that they would not jump in if it wasn't for charity.

The Big Chill Weekend finishes up with a Poker Bear Express tonight from 5-9 p.m., where people collect playing cards at participating Baldwinsville bars to create their best poker hand.