LAKE GEORGE - The temperatures were mild for mid-November, but donations were red-hot at the fourth annual Lake George Polar Plunge for Special Olympics New York.
"I never believed we'd get this much," said Kaila Horton, who coordinated the Nov. 20 event for Special Olympics. Without all the contributions counted on Monday, this year's plunge into Lake George raised more than $78,000.
Local organizer Bill Toscano said the sum far outpaced the three previous events and exceeded the organizers' most optimistic goal of $75,000. Final results will be available next week, he said.
More than 300 individuals plunged, representing nearly 50 teams. The temperature was in the low 40s, and the water temperature at Shepard beach pier was 48 degrees.
Some plunge participants basked on the beach to soak up sun rays, others frolicked in the water long after the sanctioned plunge ended. The atmosphere was like a party, with plungers cheering, goading each other on, and exchanging high-fives. Prior to the plunge, dozens of swimmers gyrated in a group zumba session led by mentors in bizarre costumes.
The largest team was the 29 plungers led by Lisa Jackoski, whose son Max attends Lake George High School and is a Special Olympian. The Max's Buddies team raised $4,105, which is expected to be the fourth highest among all the teams. Mrs. Jackoski raised $1,065 and was one of fewer than a dozen plungers to get over $1,000.
Even with the plunge concluded, the team title has yet to be decided and won't be definite until all the money is verified. Adventure in Food Trading team of Menands already has $10,184 on the books and TEAM Momentive of Waterford has $9,600.
The top Warren County team team was "Agni Dentati," which raised more than $6,500, including a $1,000 donation from BMI Supply, Inc., of Queensbury.