CAROGA LAKE – The lake water at the Caroga Lake Marina was 33 degrees Fahrenheit Tuesday morning and ice had formed over most of the lake.
Still, this didn’t stop dozens of area residents from charging into the frigid waters as part of the Sixth Annual Caroga Polar Plunge.
The roughly 60 people who took the plunge spent a few seconds each in the water.
Shouts of shock and surprise emanated from the swimmers upon entering the water.
“Nuts, maybe? I don’t know,” said Mike Heberer of Caroga, joking about why he decided to take the plunge.
Caroga Polar Bear Club founder Angie Meredith, who has been organizing cold-water plunge events for 10 years, said the event is a fun opening to the year. She said the plunge washes away people’s problems from the previous year.
Seventeen-year-old David Chernack of Hyde Park said he wanted to get an idea of what the Polar Plunge was all about and got involved.
Jennifer Decker, one of the people who charged down into the water, said this was the first year she participated in the Caroga Lake plunge. She said she used to attend a similar plunge at Lake George.
“The water’s colder,” Decker said of Caroga Lake.
She appeared to be unaffected by the temperature.
Marina Owner Karl Ziemann said the event is popular among participants and observers.
“[People come] to see crazy people jump into the water,” he said.
The Caroga Volunteer Fire Department helped at the event.
Junior firefighter Tom Lyman and firefighter John Delesky went into the water before the crowd poured into it.
The firefighters wore rubber suits to stay warm and remained in the water in case of any emergencies. No problems were reported.
Fire Capt. Ralph Palcovic said his crew has been helping at the event for the past four years.
He has never gone into the lake as part of the plunge, he said.
“No, I supervise and I keep it at that,” Palcovic said jokingly. “Someone has to be here to pick up the pieces if someone falls, and I’m it.”
Outside of the water, the Polar Plunge event also included a tug of war and story telling.
Earlier in the day, breakfast and refreshments were served at Vrooman’s restaurant in Caroga Lake.
The tug of war was won by the One Cook and a Waitress team.