Polar Plunge going strong for 89 years, despite frigid temps

Polar Plunge going strong for 89 years, despite frigid temps

WATERVILLE, OH (WTOL) - It is a tradition that is not for the faint of heart. Instead, it is for those who some might call a bit crazy.

On New Year's Day, dozens of people will jump into the Might Maumee, by their own free will, for the 89th Annual Polar Plunge.

"It is the 89th plunge, which makes it one of the oldest in the United States," said Molly Good, special events at Waterville Historical Society.

The river will actually be around 22 degrees warmer than the outside temperature of around 11 degrees.

The crazy idea came to one man in 1929: Herb Mericle.

"Typically, it was just a solo event and he did it. He jumped in the river every year," Good said. "And if my sources tell me it was for good luck, then we've got a lot of people lining up to do it this year."

The only year Herb missed a jump was in 1937 when he got married. To honor his wife, he took the plunge each year at 2:30 p.m., the time they got married on New Year's Day in 1937.

Mericle took his last plunge at age 94 before passing in 2008. But his annual tradition continues to grow.

Since the event keeps growing, new organizers are preparing for the frigid temps.

"We encourage people to have towels and fresh clothing standing by immediately after they make the plunge so that they can warm up as soon as possible," said Dr. Tyler Schwanz, Rebel Chiropractic. "But it's going to be a great time."

They also want people to wear shoes to protect their feet.

The local Tim Hortons will be there to warm up with coffee and hot chocolate post plunge.

But for those who think the event may be canceled due to cold weather, think again.

"The one thing I know that happens rain or shine is the polar bear plunge," Schwanz said.

So if you dare to take the plunge on New Year's Day, you'll have good luck in 2018, according to Herb Mericle.

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