Saturday, May 15, 2021
May 15, 2021

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Polar Plunge canceled due to lack of insurance


LAKE WENATCHEE — Bad news for you f-f-f-frosty fans … the 25th Annual Jim Sofie Memorial Polar Bear Plunge set for Monday has been iced.

Cancellation of the popular Jan. 1 event — for many a wake-up dunk to start the new year — came Friday after organizers learned they’d have to supply liability insurance, a requirement they weren’t previously aware of.

“This (insurance policy) was news to us,” Lake Wenatchee resident Gary Marks said Friday. Marks helped organize the 2017 Plunge and was coordinator of Monday’s dip. “Unfortunately, it looks like the Polar Plunge is off,” he said.

Senior Park Aide Amanda Fisher at Lake Wenatchee State Park, the location of the Plunge for the last 24 years, said, “We’re disappointed here at the park. We love providing a great place for it to happen. It always brought lots of people here — and lots of fun — on what could be a very cold winter day.”

On Monday, Fisher will lead another of the state park’s winter activities — a snowshoe hike beginning at 11 a.m.

In the last two weeks, the Plunge had been on-again, off-again as Lake Wenatchee community members encouraged each other to step forward to run the show. By Wednesday, no one had taken, um, the plunge. So Marks personally obtained a state park permit to hold the event, not knowing insurance would be required.

Jim Sofie launched the chilly dip 24 years ago to tout the health benefits of cold-water swimming. Each year, the event has attracted dozens of dippers and scores of cheering spectators. Sophie died in 2015.

So what will happen to the Plunge in coming years? “Not sure,” said Marks. “We’ll need to talk about it in the community and see if we can find a sponsor. I’m hoping somebody or some business steps forward to keep this event alive.”