New Year's Day's Polar Plunge expected to break records

LAKE GEORGE - Whether people do it to boost their vitality, make a statement about personal health, impress their friends, win over the heart of a suitor, or prove one's insanity to the world, more and more people have participated each year in the Lake George New Years Day Polar Plunge.

What started out as a First Day frigid frolic of several dozen people has developed into a colorful, fanciful and mass plunge into Lake George by more than 1,000 revelers.

This year, the celebratory plunge is set to occur in two waves, at 2 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Saturday Jan. 1.

Event organizer Kathi Kokalas of Lake George said Tuesday 1,200 plungers are expected this year. A total of 996 plungers registered for the 2010 event, with more than 1,000 others watching the bizarre show of frigid swimmers.

Kokalas said event sponsors fully expect a record crowd of 1,200 or more swimmers and about 1,200 more spectators.

"It's very invigorating and a great way to start out the new year," she said. "Bring your friends and have fun -Anyone that participates has a blast!"

Many jump into the icy waters - a lot of them in family or fraternity groups - wearing zany, creative attire. Many do it while balancing tumblers of beer.

Revelers are urged to show up at 10:30 a.m. when registration begins outside Duffy's Tavern on Amherst St. A participation donation charge is $10, and includes a long-sleeved commemorative T-shirt. Don't be surprised if a line forms soon after 10 a.m.

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Ben Osborn Memorial Fund, named after a local man who was killed in combat in June as he was protecting his fellow soldiers. All plungers are urged to bring warm footwear and have warm clothing or robe to take the chill off when exiting the water.

Immediately following the plunge, a post-swim party will be held at Duffy's Tavern, featuring music by Even the Odd band. Just prior to the plunge, a mass zumba dance will be occurring in the Shepard Park amphitheater. Details are available at : www.lakegeorgewintercarnival.com

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