Lewisburg to host annual Polar Bear Plunge Fundraiser


Photo Courtesy of Julia Frederickson

Kelsey Werkheiser, News Co-Editor

On Saturday, Feb. 4, Lewisburg will host their 19th annual Polar Bear Plunge. This winter fundraiser consists of donors “plunging” into the (sometimes frozen) Susquehanna River, whether in a bathing suit, warmer clothing or even costume.

The event usually brings in more than 250 plungers, many of them being Bucknell Students. Some of the plungers have been long-time participants, and some travel from out of state. In addition to plungers, up to 1,000 people attend the event just to watch all the fun. 

Each year, one lucky winner is awarded the “Golden Plunger” award, which is passed down from the previous year’s winner. When Taylor Lightman, program manager at Lewisburg Neighborhoods Corporation, was asked what constitutes a winner, he said, “you know it when you see it.”

All of the money raised from the event goes to the Lewisburg Neighborhoods Corporation, which is a non-profit founded in 2007 to help revitalize Lewisburg neighborhoods. The LNC’s main focuses are programming, policy and grant work. 

The LNC organizes initiatives such as litter pick-ups and efforts towards preventing flooding and preserving housing. They also helped to write the grant that funded the recent remodel of Hufnagle Park. LNC also receives funding from the Bucknell Community Engagement Fund, which helps to facilitate campus and town engagement. 

The Polar Bear Plunge is further funded by sponsors like Gilson Snow, the Susquehanna River Valley Visitors Bureau and Seven Mountains Media. Last year, the Plunge raised around $7,300, and the goal for this year is $10,000.

Standard tickets to partake in the event, which includes Dunkin’ hot chocolate and a commemorative hat, cost $15. Participants can upgrade to a $40 “Pregame the Plunge” ticket for admission into private parties hosted at Trevina, Hungry Run Distilling and Brasserie Louis. This includes a $25 Trevina Tap Card, a complimentary shot at Hungry Run Distilling, complimentary beer from Rusty Rail and appetizers at Brasserie Louis. With the $60 “SRV VIP Ticket,” you’ll receive 10am-11am early entrance at Trevina with complimentary brunch appetizers, coffee, Bloody Marys and mimosas, in addition to all the previous benefits.

Depending on their ticket level, participants will rotate from one stop to another prior to the plunge. There will also be some vendors set up along S. Front Street. Registration begins at 12:30, followed by a parade to the boat launch at 2, featuring Bucknell’s pep band. Participants will then take the plunge at 2:30, and the Golden Plunger will be awarded at 3.

Last year, the ice storm before the Plunge made descending down into the river too dangerous. As an alternative, the fire company set up a temporary pool that is usually used for rural fires where they cannot access a fire hydrant. A photo of students plunging into this pool was featured on The Guardian’s “best photographs of the day from around the world.”

If you want to contribute towards the Polar Bear Plunge’s fundraising goal, make sure to register for the plunge before February 1 to avoid last-minute additional ticket fees.

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