Cold students with warm smiles

2018 Winterfest Polar Plunge brings out adventurous students unafraid of a little freezing water

By GABRIELLE ABREAU
Staff Writer, UAS Whalesong
In New York City, we don’t typically celebrate winter. This dreary season is synonymous with sludged streets and salt soaked boots, which consumes the sole of even the most expensive, toughest pair of boots around. In only a matter of hours every snowfall goes from a winter wonderland to grey puddles of mush. This season, back home, systematically consumes soles and souls.
The idea of Winterfest was a shock for me, since this season typically holds no reason for celebration. Winterfest consisted of three main events: the Polar Plunge and Harbour Party, a bonfire, and Skate Night.
On the top of the list of things I have never done nor intended to do was jump into a body of water in under 70 degree weather! If you would have told me even two months ago that I was going to jump into the Pacific ocean mid February I would not have believed it.
When I close my eyes I can still feel the icy dock beneath my feet. With each step both fear and excitement coursed through my veins. The adrenaline kicked in almost as quickly as the heat left my body. I wasn’t sure that I could do it, “Do I have cold feet or numb toes?” A question I asked myself repeatedly as the distance between me and the water got closer.
No matter how hard I try to remember the icy water, I can’t. The water must have shocked my system so thoroughly that I blacked out. I remember the dock, and then I remember having my beanie on and a volunteer handing me my glasses while scrambling towards the hot tubs and barbeque.
There is honestly nothing better than the taste of a perfectly grilled burger on a winter afternoon. But, the real show stoppers were the inflatable hot tubs that managed to bring life back to the plungers. After only a few seconds in the steaming water I could already sense my toes begin to thaw.
While it was a completely insane activity it managed to bring so many people together. The event was attended by 80 plungers and spectators, some were there for moral support, some for the food, and others like me, were there for the shock of a lifetime. In order to receive the Polar Plunge beanie participants had to donate either canned foods, pillows, toys, towels, and art supplies that would go toward the organizations. The Polar Plunge was able to collect a full cart load of donated items which benefited the Glory Hole, AWARE, Housing First, and Housing First Clinic.
The morning was followed by a bonfire with students at Noyes Pavilion, then ice skating at Treadwell Ice arena.
All in all it was one of the most amazing days I’ve ever had. I can delightedly say that I no longer feel like a visitor in a strange place. Who would have thought that all it would take a was a quick dip in the Pacific in the middle of February?

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