Annual Polar Bear Plunge in Lewisburg: 100 people jump into Susquehanna River

Sarah Haber, Contributing Writer

University students, staff, and community members gathered at the Susquehanna River to participate in the 2019 Polar Bear Plunge hosted by the Lewisburg River Town Team on Feb. 2. Despite the lingering freezing weather from the polar vortex, about 100 enthusiastic people prepared themselves to take a dip in the icy Susquehanna.


The Polar Bear Plunge is an annual tradition as a part of the Heart of Lewisburg Ice Festival. The festival started in 2004 as an effort to engage the community in a weekend of fun activities and to promote downtown Lewisburg. The event benefits the Lewisburg Downtown Partnership, an organization whose mission is to foster the economic and cultural growth of the downtown area.


With the water temperature just above freezing and the air temperature at 28 degrees, the 2019 Polar Bear Plunge was set to be one of coldest plunges in the town’s history. However, this did not stop community members from gathering at the St. George Street landing.


“I was scared about how cold the water would be, and even though it was freezing, I had a really good time doing the Polar Bear Plunge with my friends. I hope that my friends and I can make the Polar Bear Plunge an annual tradition while we are here at the University,” Andrew Doane ’22 said.


Many student groups on campus encouraged their members to partake and support the community. For example, the rugby team has made participating in the Polar Bear Plunge a tradition. 35 members of the team raced into the cold river on Saturday.


“When I first heard of the Polar Bear Plunge, the majority of upperclassmen on the team were very adamant about getting the entire team to do it. After jumping into an icy river on a freezing day, I can see that it’s about giving back to the community and building camaraderie within the team,” Renne Venico ’22 said.


Entering the water may have not been the chilliest part of the day. Community members were waiting outside in the cold for the plunge to start with most people dressed in attire appropriate for the beach in the height of summer.


“The coldest part of the plunge was waiting in line to rush in. The mud was not any warmer than the snow; we all lost feeling in our toes for a while,” Venico said.


The annual Polar Bear Plunge continues to be a staple event for the community of Lewisburg and the University.


“It is great to know that this is not only a fun event, you get to give back to the community while you are at it,” Doane said.

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