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B'ville: Breaking up the winter season

It's mid-February -- want to jump into the Seneca River?

Those interested in this bone-chilling sport can participate in the polar bear plunge, a fundraiser to be held during Winter in the Park at Baldwinsville's Mercer Park.

Winter in the Park is part of a two-day Baldwinsville event that begins Feb. 15 with the Mayor's Ball. It is an idea that the Greater Baldwinsville Chamber of Commerce has been toying with for a while.

"The winter months seem to drag on a bit in Upstate New York, and it is nice to have something to look forward to," said Anthony Saraceni, village trustee and co-coordinator of event. "A strong community knows their neighbors. That defines Baldwinsville. We have a great community and we need to continue providing fun activities for our residents, regardless of the season."

Saraceni said the Mayor's Ball is a formal fundraiser event for adults that will benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Ronald McDonald House Charities of New York and the GBCC.

"This is a formal event open to the greater community. In fact, we encourage all to attend," Saraceni said. "It's for a great cause."

The winter festivities continue Saturday Feb. 16 with a variety of family-friendly events at Mercer Park including a neighborhood chili cook-off. The first three residents from each area (Lysander, Van Buren and Baldwinsville) will put their chili recipes to the test in this fun (and tasty) contest. A snowman building contest will be held followed by a Christmas tree bonfire. The event will close with a winter-fireworks display.

"We felt that this would be a truly unique firework display to the Syracuse area," Saraceni said.

However, the most unique event that Saturday will be the polar bear plunge.

"We are going to hold the first annual polar bear plunge in the Seneca River," Saraceni said, adding that details of the event are not yet in place. "For those 'crazies' out there, this is an opportunity to do something you have probably never done before."

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