Polar Plunge Challenge

A New Year Giving a New Meaning to Taking the Plunge

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Celebrating the New Year typically consists of small gatherings, church events, parties, or a quiet evening at home. Even for some individuals, a specific meal cooked on New Year’s Day symbolizes a great outcome for the year to come. Whatever you do on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, gives a glimmer of hope for a prosperous New Year ahead. But did you know that many have started a trend of doing some adventurous activities to celebrate a new beginning? Yes, there are more exciting and different ways to walk (or shall we say “dive”) into the New Year by themselves or even with your family and friends.

Polar Plunging is a global activity used as a challenge. The usual Polar Plunge Challenge consists of jumping into bodies of water that is below freezing temperature. This dive is carried out by your everyday sportsman and those who are seeking an extreme way to swim! Some do it to celebrate a milestone, to raise money for charitable organizations, or even holidays. Many wanted to cleanse themselves of the old year of 2016 and emerge into 2017 by taking this challenge on New Year’s Day.

Other countries around the world have taken on the challenge and putting new spins on polar plunging. In Canada, it is not uncommon for participants to participate in a “Polar Bear Swim”. The Polar Bear Swim consists of taking a swim in freezing cold water being joined by chunks or patches of ice. This New Year’s Day plunge is also celebrated in the Netherlands as well as the United Kingdom. Not matter where we are in the world, this challenge serves as a way to bring in the New Year along with feeling a rush of excitement.

However, many have decided to up the ante, taking this challenge to new heights….Literally. Instead of plunging into iced over lakes or waters in cold weather, skydivers plunged out of airplanes flying up to 10,000 feet in cold climates.

Skydiving is already a rush activity for those who want to try something new or add to their laundry list of dare devil stunts. Adding in the holiday of celebrating a New Year, gives another meaning to “new beginnings”. Usual skydiving takes place in warm comfortable weather. It is already exciting to jump out of an airplane in good weather conditions for newcomers. So any other condition could add to the adrenaline rush.

New Year’s Day weather conditions in Toledo added in the Polar portion to this new way of taking the plunge. Jeff Peterson, skydiving instructor at Skydive Toledo, took on this challenge plunging towards the ground during a blizzard. Him along with other jumpers celebrated the first day of 2017 with a bit of adventure and out of your normal routine of screaming Happy New Year with family and friends. Peterson’s fellow jumpers consisted of average working people looking for a huge thrill and excitement to ring in the New Year. These skydivers felt the rush of the cold along with jumping out of an airplane in which they described as an “awesome” ride. Not only did they enjoy the jump, but viewing the winter landscapes as they plunged added to the experience as well.

The only hindrance in skydiving in this type of weather was the cloud coverage. It’s a best practice for all skydiving companies to make sure skydivers are taking their leaps within good conditions for flying. Being that the blizzard took place, the clouds were closely moved in making it impossible for the airplanes to reach specific heights. Ensuring that they stayed under the clouds for safety precautions, diving into the cold air wasn’t bothersome for the jumpers. But sure enough, the airplanes were able to reach high enough for divers to feel that same anticipated rush.

The fun didn’t end on that day. The following Monday (the observance day for New Year’s), weather conditions improved a bit for even more brave jumpers to get in on this new way of Polar Plunging to “dive” into 2017. This extra day of being off from work, for many, gave an opportunity for those who missed out on a thrill ride to take advantage of flying out of an airplane, meeting the sky. Jordan Wyatt, of Castle Rock, crossed a major item off of his bucket list by jumping out of an airplane feeling the cold breeze. He and a friend, Andrew Salmon (Rainier, Oregon), teamed up to watch each other dive at 8,500 & 10,500 feet as the clouds lifted, with the snow covered ground to catch them.

Hythir Whittaker, Skydive Toledo’s owner, has been witnessing jumpers take on their fears or feeding their desire to try something new for many years. Individuals through all walks of life come out of this experience with a changed mindset and feelings of accomplishment. Averaging about 6,000 jumpers per year, Whittaker describes her line of work as a “life-altering experience”.

Perhaps this new trend in Polar Plunging will take over worldwide becoming an international craze. It’s great to know that despite the rough times of a previous year, you can always dive into a new day with a fresh mind along with a sense of adventure. Although it may seem scary or dangerous, risking a few moments of a chill on your face probably doesn’t compare to the impact that tandem skydiving can take. Setting the tone for a New Year in this way could help give a better outlook on how to take on the upcoming 12 months ahead.

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