Recognize any of these crazy people?
That’s OK. I don’t like to admit that I know them, either.
That’s my sister, Margy, in the green hat, and her husband, Amo, standing next to her, wearing the Santa Claus hat.
The two muscular posers on the left are their friends, Denise Huck and Mike Baruschke.
And that’s me, behind them, in the red jacket, holding my iPad in front of my face to record all this goofiness.
So what are we doing here, half naked (some of us), for the world to see?
I’ve been wondering the same thing for the last two days.
This was the Polar Bear Plunge, an annual celebration of toughness and lunacy, where hundreds of nut jobs gather on New Year’s Day and willingly run into a very frigid Lake Erie to start off the new year with a laugh and a shiver.
These kinds of events take place all over the country. This one was at Huntington Beach in Bay Village, just west of Cleveland.
Margy has been doing this for three years, and keeps showing up for more. This year, Amo agreed to run into the lake with her.
Mrs. Trail Boy and I (and a few of our charges) showed up to watch and cheer. I also said I would take photos and a video.
When we arrived, a small mob had already formed. It looked like a march on the sea.
A minute or two later, we found Margy and Amo, all smiles, and still nice and dry.
Amo is a tough guy, despite his sheepish smiles. As you can see from his sweatshirt, he went to Virginia Military Institute (a few decades ago) and was a Marine officer.
But now it was time to prove he was tough in another way. It was time to line up for business.
Hold hands, everyone, and take a deep breath!
And then the organizer got everyone lined up and blew the horn. They all stampeded into the water.
Unfortunately, Amo tripped on something almost right away and went down hard.
And a photographer for the Plain Dealer newspaper was on hand to record all the glory.
And I recorded it from the beach. You can see Amo hit the deck if you look hard.
But Amo is a good sport, and everyone had a bunch of laughs afterward.
And then it was time to dry off and head home in soggy swimsuits, in the chilly air.
Actually, it was a pretty nice for it, considering it was January. The air was a balmy 48 degrees. The water was a little chillier, at 36 degrees, according to the Cleveland Triathlon Club, which sponsored the plunge.
About 300 people ran out into the surf. Some went just up to their waist before turning tail and running back to the beach.
But in order to be considered a true polar bear, you’re supposed to plunge completely under water before high-tailing it back to land.
Yep, that’s a mighty cold dunk. But I suppose that’s the whole point.
I stayed on the beach, nice and dry, along with Mrs. Trail Boy.
Maybe next year I will join the nut jobs. It would certainly be something to talk about.
One other highlight: I got to meet one of my favorite bloggers, TriSaraTops, a tough-as-nails Ironman thriathlete. Her blog is cool, sassy and often hilarious.
Unlike yours truly, Sara took the plunge, as you can see from this blog posting. She’s braver than Trail Boy.
At least until next year!