Polar Plunge to return to North Avenue Beach, 24 other locations this year

Besides in-person plunges, participants are encouraged to join the event — to be held across the state from Feb. 28 through mid-March — virtually too.

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Polar Plunge participants run to Lake Michigan during the 20th Polar Plunge at North Avenue Beach on March 1, 2020.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

The Polar Plunge is heading back to the beach — along with 24 other locations across the state this year.

After last year’s charity event went virtual because of the pandemic, Special Olympics Illinois announced Wednesday it will be hosting two dozen plunges over the course of a month to raise money for Special Olympics athletes and programs.

The events, which begin Feb. 28 and run through late March, are scattered across the state, and includes a plunge into Lake Michigan at Gillson Beach in Wilmette March 20; a dive at Twin Lake Recreation Area March 6; and a gathering at Oak Brook Bath & Tennis Club in the western suburb March 19.

Details of those and other plunges can be found by visiting: www.plungeillinois.com.

The news comes after Special Olympics Chicago announced in October its annual Polar Plunge — one of the nation’s largest — is returning to North Avenue Beach March 6.

But attending one of those plunges is not the only way to get involved this year.

Similar to 2021, people are also encouraged to get creative and participate virtually.

“Remember, it isn’t WHERE you plunge, or HOW you plunge, but THAT you plunge to support these athletes,” Special Olympics Illinois said in a news release.

In 2021, participants organized all sorts of innovative plunges. Some people jumped in kiddie pools and lakes, while others dumped ice buckets over their heads.

A student jumps into a wading pool filled with snow and water for St. Patrick High School’s version of the Polar Plunge at St. Patrick’s High School in the Belmont Central neighborhood, Saturday morning, March 6, 2021, where students and teachers participated to raise money for Special Olympics Chicago and Special Children’s Charities.

A student jumps into a wading pool filled with snow and water for St. Patrick High School’s version of the Polar Plunge March 6, 2021.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

One group constructed a homemade dunk tank that they set up in an alleyway; and some students and teachers at St. Patrick High School hosted a fun-filled event outside on the school’s football field and raised about $10,700.

Special Olympics Illinois encourages partakers to post their plunges on social media and use the official hashtag: #BeBoldGetCold.

Registered participants are required to raise a minimum $100 to plunge and receive the annual Polar Plunge sweatshirt. Those who raise more than the minimum may earn other prizes, including a fanny pack, sweatpants and/or a zip-up jacket.

All proceeds will benefit the more than 23,000 traditional athletes and 13,000 Young Athletes of Special Olympics Illinois and will help cover program costs, including transportation to and from competitions, sports equipment, team uniforms and more.

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