As event announcer Jean Lupa put it, this year’s Polar Bear Splash was more like a “Southern Splash” given the unseasonably warm weather the Prescott area has been experiencing this cold season.
Hosted every year by the Town of Prescott Valley, the Polar Bear Splash is a family friendly event that takes place in early January. It’s chock-full of silly competitions followed by a synchronized plunge into unheated winter water. Competitions this year included a no-hands donut eating contest; a no-hands ice cream eating contest; a rubber duck race; and an Ice Princess contest. (Photos and videos of these events are posted on dcourier.com).
The signature event, the Polar Bear Splash, is usually met with some hesitation by those thinking of participating, but this year saw a record number with more than 50 people willing to brave the chilly depths of Mountain Valley Splash Outdoor Aquatic Center’s pool. Organizers believe the high participation had much to do with the weather and the water’s temperature, which was only 47 degrees.
“I think last year was 37 degrees,” said Town of Prescott Valley Community and Outdoors Coordinator Robert Kieren. “The year before that the water was like 29 degrees. It was freezing.”
“Warm” as it was, the water certainly sent a shiver up participants’ spines.
“It was still cold,” said The Daily Courier’s own Jason Wheeler, who decided to give it a go this year despite having a mild case of the common cold.
Wheeler wasn’t the only one pushing the limits of his body in a time of weakness. Tom Brown also decided to strike it off his bucket list only four months after receiving heart surgery.
“I was a little apprehensive, but I asked my doctor Friday and he goes ‘nah, you’ll be alright,’” Brown said.
Prizes ranging from hard cash to items donated by sponsoring businesses were given to everyone who either won one of the various competitions or found small orange pucks at the bottom of the pool.