Annual Lake Tahoe Polar Plunge for Special Olympics returns this weekend
Sunny skies will greet hundreds of participants in an annual dip into Lake Tahoe this weekend, but clear weather may do little to warm the water for those willing to brave the lake in winter.
The South Lake Tahoe Polar Plunge takes place Saturday morning, March 19, at Zephyr Cove Resort. The annual event is the last in a series of regional cold-water fundraisers for Special Olympics Northern California Nevada. Special Olympics provides year-round sports training and competition opportunities for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, and the fundraisers contribute to more than 20,000 athletes in the area being able to compete free of charge, said Ilisa Kessler, chief operating officer for Special Olympics Northern California Nevada.
“It is one of our largest plunges,” Kessler said Thursday of the Tahoe event. “We get great participation.”
The National Weather Service in Reno reported the mid-lake water temperature was a brisk 43 degrees on Thursday, March 17, although near-shore water temperatures are likely to be slightly warmer.
Participants must raise at least $125 in donations in order to take the plunge, which will begin at noon. Pre-plunge activities start at 10 a.m. Saturday and include games, limbo and an air guitar contest. A costume contest will also be held at 11:30 a.m.
All participants are encouraged to dress up for the event, and Kessler said the creativity displayed in the costume choices is one of her favorite parts of Polar Plunges. Cardboard police cars, the AT-AT walkers from “Star Wars” and pool noodle cocoons have each been among Polar Plunge costumes in the past, Kessler said. This year’s theme is “rock ’n’ roll.”
The event attracts community members of all sorts, from corporate teams to area school groups to public safety personnel.
“It’s a wonderful event people come to year after year because it’s unique, fun and exciting,” Kessler said. “It’s a great way to spend your Saturday morning.”
Walk-up participants are welcome, as long as they donate the requisite $125.
Following the plunge, post-race festivities will be held at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe. The casino is also among the area groups fielding a team at the Polar Plunge.
“We’re thrilled that so many of our employees are coming together to support the community this weekend,” said Hard Rock’s director of marketing Randy Maddocks in a statement. “Without a doubt we’re all going to be freezing, but it’s for a very worthy cause.”
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