People ring in the New Year in all sorts of interesting ways. Residents of Barbour County decided doing something a little crazy to raise money was how they wanted to celebrate. Leah Knicely has all the details on a New Year’s celebration with a splash.
Locals gathered at the Philippi Covered Bridge on the Tygart River to celebrate the 12th Annual Polar Bear Plunge. Charitable men and women from the area came out in the cold temperatures and frigid waters to support a local organization.
The Polar Bear Plunge is held annually as a donation fundraiser for the Barbour County Emergency Medical Squad. Funds are always needed and every little bit counts.
“We try to collect money. We try to get people, if they like and enjoy what we do, to send them money, to give them money. Every emergency squad all over the state needs our help,” said event coordinator and Barbour River Rat Racer President Charles Muncy.
Participants stripped down to their bathing suits and headed to the edge of the river to mentally prepare to dive in.
“My expectation going in was that it was going to be really cold. I got a little nervous when I came and had to break the ice first to get in and then concerned about getting back out again after that, but it went ok,” said Dr. Mark Farnsworth, a returning participant.
In the past, the plunge has raised more than $2,000 and participation for the event has been high. This year, the participation numbers were down but morale was way up.
“There are people who truly enjoy this kind of sport, and it is crazy but it is fun especially when there’s people watching; it makes it fun,” continued Muncy.
The event may seem a little crazy but for some, it is an inspiring way to begin the New Year.
“If you can start off the year doing something that’s challenging both mentally and physically, the rest of the year is downhill,” said Dr. Farnsworth.
Participants say this is the coldest year yet but the cause is more than worth it. For more information on how to donate to the Barbour County Emergency Medical Squad, contact Charles Muncy at (304) 457-4531.