By Sarah Koehler | Photo courtesy of Lester Cristman
On most days, plunging into the icy waters around Geneva Lake would be the last thing on people’s minds. But in some cases, brave residents and visitors are taking the plunge on purpose for a good cause: often to raise money for those in need, sometimes to build a sense of community. If you’re looking to get in on the frigid fun, here are a few options for Polar Plunges in the area to consider:
Freezin’ for a Reason
(Dec. 2, 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Pier 290, Williams Bay) – Gage Marine hosts this unique twist on a traditional polar plunge at their Winter Harbor location, Pier 290 bar and restaurant in Williams Bay. The event benefits the Santa Cause supercharity, which distributes funds to several local Walworth County nonprofit organizations. As part of the event, amateur water skiers, wakeboarders, wakesurfers and tubers can register to show off their skills while braving the cold water of Geneva Lake. In addition, professional water skiers and the Twin Lakes Aquanuts water ski team perform at the event. Spectators can also enjoy food and beverage specials, raffles and a live and silent auction. Last year, Freezin’ for a Reason raised $35,000 for the Santa Cause, and organizers aim to exceed that goal this year. For more info, visit freezinlakegeneva.org.
Williams Bay Community Polar Plunge
(Jan. 1, noon, Williams Bay Beach, Williams Bay) – This community plunge gets more and more popular every winter! Join the masses and jump in the icy waters of Geneva Lake to ring in the new year. If the lake is frozen, the event moves to Pier 290, where a section of water is kept open year-round.
Last year, the air temperature hovered around 29 degrees as more than 100 people gathered on the shoreline to grill hot dogs, drink hot chocolate, tailgate and spend time with neighbors and friends. The Lady of the Lake tour boat brought a group of spectators out and gave the countdown for the plungers to run into the water. Some participants wore costumes, while others donned swimsuits or bathrobes and a few put on their wetsuits.
Whatever the getup, the goal was the same: have fun with your neighbors, do something a little crazy, and start the year off in a memorable way.
“Dip for Dave”
(Jan. 1, 10:30 a.m. registration, noon plunge, The Boat House Bar & Grill, Lake Geneva) – The annual “Dip for Dave” polar plunge is hosted at a popular bar and restaurant next to Big Foot Beach State Park. The event benefits “Kisses from Keegan & Friends,” a pediatric cancer foundation, and is named in honor of Dave Mikrut, a dedicated board member of the charity who passed away in 2021.
Last year, the plunge raised about $2,000 for the foundation, though participants were unable to jump into the water because Buttons Bay had frozen over. Event organizers are hoping the weather will cooperate this year. Visit kissesfromkeegan.org.
Walworth County Special Olympics
(March 9, 9:30 a.m. registration, noon plunge, Whitewater Aquatic Center, Whitewater) – If jumping
in a lake in the dead of winter is too adventurous, then mark your calendar for early March, when the Walworth County chapter of Special Olympics Wisconsin sponsors a polar plunge at the Whitewater Aquatic Center. The event is one of eight statewide polar plunges (plus a virtual plunge) that benefit the charity. Last year, the combined polar plunge events brought out more than 2,000 participants, raising nearly $1.1 million for the cause, and this year, organizers hope to exceed that amount.
The Whitewater event aims to raise $100,000 toward the overall goal. Plungers take a dip in a temporary outdoor pool that volunteers set up at the Whitewater Aquatic Center specifically for the event. Numerous police, fire and emergency medical personnel are on hand to ensure the safety of all participants. Registration is currently open, and the organization is actively seeking participants, sponsors, donors and spectators. For more info, visit polarplungewi.org.