Saturday March 1st saw a brief respite from a winter cursed by an unfamiliar phenomenon called the “polar vortex.” The morning air was crisp, but warmer than normal for the time of year. Eagle Creek Park was alive with hundreds of people present for the 15th annual Indianapolis Polar Plunge benefiting the Special Olympics.
Records were set in both attendance (647 brave participants) and dollars raised ($140,000). History was made, too, as it was the first time most could remember having to cut into ice to make the actual plunge.
As longtime sponsors and participants, IndyMojo jumped in costume again in 2014- this year as bearded ladies. The coed team consisted of three women in dresses with painted-on beards and five bearded men- also all in in dresses, full makeup, wigs and tights.
Shortly before the costume contest at 9:45 the Indy Mojo Bearded Ladies appeared amongst the gathered masses- obviously a crowd favorite conjuring many smiles and laughs… and posing for lots of pictures.
Other notable themed group themes included:
- French Kiss- a combination of the band Kiss with French baguettes, berets, and mime shirts
- army outfits with plungers attached to helmets
- characters from Forrest Gump who acted out the rally scene in Washington D.C.
Due to the extreme weather, the entire reservoir was frozen over. In order to have the plunge, an area the size of a hotel swimming pool was cut out of the ice.
The ice really freaked me out,” said Kayleigh Dye, two year veteran of the plunge, when asked about the condition of the water. “Complete intimidation from last year when there was no ice on the water. Knowing that I was going to willingly jump in that water made me a little nauseous.
The Indianapolis Polar Plunge functions differently than most (who use a pool or some other artificial water source) due to its venue, Eagle Creek Reservoir.
Four-year veteran Lindsey Saxton had this to say about the differences:
I did it twice with my service group in college, but we felt like more of a group of individuals. When you run through a hole in the ice surrounded by firefighters, there’s much more of a communal atmosphere than jumping into what feels like a large dunk tank.
The Indy Mojo Bearded Ladies raised $1100 and are looking forward to growing their participation in 2015- not only in the amount raised and the number of people making the jump, but also in the number of people coming to attend the event as spectators.
“Next year, we need to bring a lot of supporters to cheer us on during the costume contest,” said Matt Shatzel, another first-time jumper.
It’s not too late to donate to the Special Olympics. Gifts of any size can be made here.