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Annual polar bear plunge chills Springville residents old and young

By Sam Penrod | Posted - Jan 1st, 2013 @ 6:26pm


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SPRINGVILLE — Dozens of people in Utah County spent the first day of the new year jumping into a freezing-cold pond. It was a polar bear plunge celebration, and this crowd does it every year.

The plunge happened at precisely 12 noon, when the temperature was a "balmy" 15 degrees. For Marilyn Buchanan, taking the plunge was how she wanted to make her birthday one to remember.

"Today is my birthday, and I'm 81 years old, and I thought I should take the plunge," she said, prior to the event.

But for others who've been doing this for years, it was just another New Year's Day in Springville. For more than 15 years, people have gathered to momentarily jump into a backyard pond.

"The outside temperature doesn't matter," said Brian Stauffer. "The water temperature is 32 (degrees Fahrenheit),that's all that matters. You get in, you get out — I have been here in blizzards and sunshine, it's all the same when you get in the water."

So is it worth it? That depends on who you ask.

"It's great to be alive!" Stauffer said, after emerging from the pond.

"It was freezing!" said Shyann Bryant, through her chattering teeth. "(I'm) still cold."

"Probably the dumbest thing I have ever done in my life," said Hudson McGuire. "Not doing it again."

At 82 years old, Joe Jensen was the oldest one to take the plunge in 2013.

"I always wanted to do the polar bear plunge, so when I was 75 it was time to do the polar bear plunge; and we've been doing it since '07," he said.

As for our New Year's baby, Buchanan's 81 years have taught her maybe it is not as fun as it looks.

"It's so slimy and (there's) so much moss, I'm afraid no one could pull me out of it if I got in. So I gave up, but I'll be back next year," she said.

The Springville polar plungers later admitted that as soon as they got home, it was a hot bath, and then they planned to spend the rest of the day next to the fireplace or cuddled up in bed.

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