Printed on: January 02, 2013

Starting the year with an icy plunge

By Nate Sunderland

A dozen brave Firth residents used New Year's Eve as a chance to test their resolve in the icy waters of the Snake River.

The residents, some as young as 11, participated in Firth's fourth annual Polar Bear Plunge at the boat dock near Firth High School.

The challenge took place at midnight with temperatures in the teens. About 40 spectators showed up to cheer competitors and ring in the new year.

Competitors, dressed in costumes or in bathing suits, took turns jumping into a large hole that had been hacked into the ice at the river's edge.

"It's a fun way to start the new year and it's a challenge to do it," event organizer Val Darrington said.

The Polar Bear Plunge was started by a small group of friends jumping into the Snake River's icy waters on New Year's Eve several years ago. The event has grown each year as more people learn about the challenge.

The event typically lasts just five to 10 minutes. Competitors jump in at midnight, get out quickly and rush to their cars to get warm and go home, Darrington said.

"It's a fun community event," Darrington said. "People come to test their manliness or womanliness, or maybe it's just a test of craziness."

Nate Sunderland can be reached at 542-6763. Comment on this story on Post Talk at