Walking around Sandy Point State Park on Saturday afternoon, a crowd of colorful carousers interspersed with families from all over the region are busy exchanging horror stories of the chilly waters of the Chesapeake Bay.
It’s the last day of the 21st annual Maryland State Police Polar Bear Plunge, where it’s a sort of general admittance to jump into the chilly waters as part of an effort to benefit the Special Olympics.
At first glance, it resembles more of a large fair. A man wins a costume contest for his outfit resembling the villain from “Aladdin,” Jafar. Women on stilts, wearing wardrobes encompassing nearly the entire color spectrum, jaunt around the crowd as bands play familiar music both outside and in tents.
But the main draw is the quick dash into the bay, all to raise money and awareness for the cause.
With Jim Schmutz, CEO of Special Olympics Maryland, declaring that the water temperature “is a balmy 41 degrees” Fahrenheit at 3 p.m., it’s not as bad as years past when the bay froze, requiring officials to chip away at the ice for the event to move forward, according to Kent Island native Taz Whitley.
“People’s legs were bleeding when they were coming out of the bay because they were getting cut up by the ice,” Whitley said of the last time he participated.
Now living in Arlington, Virginia, the 38-year-old said that while 41 degrees is certainly better than the previous two times he participated, the frantic run through the water still isn’t easy.
“I don’t think you do prepare…
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