Silver Creek, NY (WKBW) Mid-January in Western New York can be defined by below freezing temperatures and wind gusts that make it feel below zero. Normally, not typical swimming weather. But Sunday in Silver Creek, brave souls took to the waters of Lake Erie as part of the Polar Bear Plunge.
Pamela Forge and Judy Kelly co-chaired the event. "We started ten years ago with fifteen swimmers. Today we had nearly 150 swimmers. It's phenomenal," Forge said. "We just bring all these people together to make this event the biggest event we have in this small community of Silver Creek," Kelly added.
The annual event raises money for the Variety Club and other local charities.
Bubba Feidt jumped in to raise money for a relative of his. "I would do it again in a heart beat. I wouldn't hesitate. It was for such a great cause," he said.
One plunger even came home from active military service to take part. Ashley Matter said it was because of her best friend. "This is her 9th jump and she convinced me to change my leave date to come home to jump in the lake. So I came all the way from Afghanistan to jump in the lake."
There was also live entertainment, a Chinese auction, and an after-party. But the main was the plunge, even if the crazy costumes many people wore didn't help against the icy lake.
"It takes your breath away. But once you're in there, it's easy once you're numb. You can walk around," Chautauqua County Legislator George Borrello said. Borrello was the only politician in this year's plunge.
The fund raising goal for the Polar Plunge was ten thousand dollars. Organizers said Sunday they expect to meet that goal.