New Year challenges offered PDF Print E-mail
Written by PETER KUEBECK Sentinel Staff Writer   
Monday, 30 December 2013 11:02
File photo. Participants prepare for the Polar Plunge in Waterville. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Looking for some ways to "take the plunge" or challenge yourself on the first day of 2014?
You don't have to look far.
Two events on Wednesday invite area residents to brave the cold and jump start the New Year.
The 84th annual Polar Plunge will take place at precisely 2:30 p.m. along the Maumee River at Memorial Park in Waterville.
Mike Hill, of the Waterville Polar Bear Club, noted the event began in 1929 with Herb Mericle, who founded the club.
"When it started out years ago, it was only about one or two people that would go out and watch him do it."
The 2:30 p.m. start time is kept as a tribute to Mericle, who went into the water at that time.
Hill said that, over the past few years, the Polar Plunge has ballooned in size - last year, an estimated 300 to 400 people participated, with thousands observing.
"When you first go in, the sensation, it's kind of hard to explain," said Hill, who will be making his 19th plunge this year.
"When you first come out of the water, for the first two or three seconds, it takes all of the air out of you and it's kind of hard to breathe," he explained, later noting that, after warming up, "the feeling you get over your whole body, it's almost like a euphoric feeling."
"You're not really cold the rest of the year," said Hill, saying that the plunge is a good way to make a fresh start for the new year.
Those with an interest in traversing the local highways and byways might consider the New Year's Day Bicycle Bean Ride, sponsored by the Black Swamp Bicycling Society. Riders are to meet at the home of Russ Frye, 600 McKinley Dr. in Bowling Green, at 10 a.m., and are welcome to stay afterwards for an informal potluck meal. Questions can be directed to Frye at 419-346-9814 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
"It's one of the longest-running bike rides in this area," said Frye, who noted it has been going for more than 30 years. This will be his 15th year with the event.
The distance of the ride depends on the weather, as does the attendance. There have been years where only a few riders took part, or groups as large as 20. Frye said he expects six to 10 riders this year, with additional family and significant others attending the potluck.
The weather, he noted, can sometimes make road conditions treacherous for the ride.
One year, "I remember we went out, and we got out of town and I think everyone in the group hit the same patch of ice" and fell over.
"I think it's just a way to greet the New Year," he said, "to start fresh. A lot of bikers keep mileage logs and this is a good way to get that log started."

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