Daredevils planning to take the plunge will run the gamut from the very young to septuagenarians. The New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge is expected to draw up to 200 participants and spectators, of all ages.
Now in its 18th year, the plunge “feels like a billion needles” hitting one’s body, as long-time organizer Philip Romero puts it. Most years, volunteers show up the night before to cut a hole in the ice to allow plungers to jump in. Romero, a retired county sheriff and municipal judge, is one of the organizers of the event, along with Tito Chavez and others. Romero said that for plungers to be “legitimate,” their entire body must become submerged in the frigid water — none of that dipping just their toes into the water or splattering a bit of water onto their heads.
If things go as planned, Justin Marquez, 19, will be taking his 13th plunge, having started when he was 6.
Although there is no charge to watch the event, Storrie Lake State Park will still be charging the standard entrance fee of $5 per carload.