By Joyce Brock/Southern Advocate
SNOW LAKE – Laughter was the main event New Year’s Day at the annual Snow Lake Shores Polar Bear event, which raises money for a local charity.
On Sunday afternoon, the swimming beach in the town of Snow Lake Shores in Benton County filled with individuals of all ages and walks of life for the annual Polar Bear Plunge. Young children played on the beach, while groups of adults joked together before the event began. People dressed in festive clothing – from complete costumes to colorful hats and scarves.
At 3:30 p.m., more than 20 individuals splashed into the cold waters of the large spring-fed lake around which the town is built. For the third year in a row, the group used the event to raise money for a local charity. Donations are expected to be about $2,000. The money is raised through a “plunge or pay” challenge issued among friends and neighbors.
Four years ago, a group of friends jumped into the lake “polar bear” style on New Year’s Day purely for entertainment. By the next year, they figured out how to use the fun to raise money for their community.
The premise is simple – jump into the cold water, or pay a neighbor to do it for you. They’ve added other fundraising elements to the event since. Last year they sold T-shirts and this year they raffled plush polar bear toys.
When all of the donations are collected, they will be donated to the Benton County United Community Action Committee. The UCAC is an organization located in Ashland, which benefits the elderly and the financially disadvantaged.