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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • Polar Plunge later this year

  • Better late than never.

    That could be the motto of this Saturday’s Special Olympics Polar Plunge, which will be the latest the event has been staged thus far in its brief history. The three previous plunges in the Hannibal Marina have always taken place on the last Saturday of January.
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  • Better late than never.
    That could be the motto of this Saturday’s Special Olympics Polar Plunge, which will be the latest the event has been staged thus far in its brief history. The three previous plunges in the Hannibal Marina have always taken place on the last Saturday of January.
    The date of this year’s plunge – Feb. 22 – is not the only thing that will be later. The start of the plunging is slated for 2 p.m. In previous years the plunge was a morning spectacle.
    “I’m assuming it was done to give it a little more time to warm up,” said Mary Lynne Richards, assistant supervisor for promotion and planning for the Hannibal Parks and Recreation Department.
    Warmer for spectators? Definitely. The National Weather Service is predicting a high of 42 Saturday. On the last Saturday of January, the warmest it got was 30 degrees.
    Warmer for plungers? Nope, considering the river water’s current temperature - around 36 degrees – is almost identical to what it was a month ago.
    Potential plungers have certainly not turned a cold shoulder at having the event later.
    “It looks like we have about 50 signed up. That’s about what we had last year,” said Richards. “We think we’re going to have more walkups because people are going to see the weather and say, ‘Oh, I think I can do that.’ That’s what we’re counting on.”
    Each plunger must donate $75 to Special Olympics for the privilege of plunging. Each participant will receive a sweatshirt. Registration will begin at noon on the riverfront.
    A costume contest, judged by Special Olympics athletes coordinated by the Marion County Services for the Developmentally Disabled, will precede the plunging.
    A number of teams will take the plunge, representing the Hannibal Board of Public Works, Eugene Field Elementary School, the Hannibal Public Schools Early Childhood Center and students from Bowling Green High School.
    “That’s what’s kind of fun, when people do it as a group. They talk each other into it,” said Richards.
    At least two Hannibal police officers are going to plunge. Representing the Rotary Club will be Julie Leverenz, vice president – strategy and planning for Hannibal Regional Healthcare System. Shoeless Joe from the Hannibal Cavemen is also planning to test the water.
    Prep work has already been completed for the event.
    “Some of our guys were down at the boat ramp (Wednesday) with a snow plow getting the boat ramp cleared off and then we put some sand there so it’s a little safer for people to run in and jump in the water,” said Richards, noting that an agitator has been utilized to keep the water in the plunge area from freezing.
    Page 2 of 2 - Bleachers have been set in place by Parks Department personnel. Chances are good those stands will be filled with spectators on Saturday.
    “I don’t know numbers, but we have a good crowd. It’s fun to watch, even if you don’t want to plunge,” said Richards. “It goes quickly so if you want to watch you better get down there by 2 p.m. because people are in and out.”
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