Watching the Polar Plunge

Herman, Shannon and I went to watch about 50 brave souls take the plunge in Caroga Lake on New Year’s Day. It was fun to watch, but maybe not so much fun to take the dip itself.

Back in the 1990s when I was seeing a doctor in Vermont, I once had to be dunked in an ice-water bath to aid my multiple sclerosis flare-up. Once again, probably more fun to watch than do.

Before the Plunge, the Caroga Lake Volunteer Fire Department won the tug-of-war. The intrepid firefighters then donned cold-water rescue gear to clear off the ice and stand by in the freezing water while the bathers did their thing.

Herman parked the van by the outlet in between East and West Caroga Lakes. When Herman drove up both Shannon and I were surprised at the amount of traffic and people there were. Brave potential bathers in their bath robes and summer sandals walked down the road on this frigid winter day.

I was happy to be parked on the side of the road in a warm van watching this crazy scene. Herman had me positioned so I could see this directly while he went outside to take pictures so he wasn’t in my view out the window. Shannon then pulled me back in the van so I could see better.

There were people of all ages participating in this event, mainly local people from Caroga Lake. Early on, they started off with a huge bonfire as they were checking people in for the plunge. Even if I could still walk, I don’t think this event was one I would care to participate in. Just like I did when I watched the ice fishermen and snowmobilers on the lake from my front window, I found myself shaking my head over and over again saying, “What is wrong with them?”

By the way, I’m not being negative about this activity. I actually give the people a lot of credit for doing this, but I don’t think I ever could.

The next time you see me sitting in my wheelchair in the cool lake during the summer heat in front of my house, think twice before you shake your head in wonder.

Just remember, I have the pictures included here to prove that I’m not the one you should worry about.

Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in New York City and Los Angeles, now pursues freelance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. Previous columns and contact information may be accessed at her website