Plungers and poker players sought

Get crazy while raising money for charities.

Organizers of the Big Chill, a two-day winter festival event held Jan. 23 and 24 in Baldwinsville, are seeking participants willing to take a dip in the Seneca River as part of the Polar Bear Plunge.

For those who don't remember last year's inaugural Baldwinsville winter festival, here's a refresher. In addition to a SnowBall formal, chili cook-off and many other snow-themed activities, approximately 20 people ran into the Seneca River in an effort to raise money. Most of them were decked out in summer attire and, despite the cold, everyone seemed to have a great time.

"Hands down, the polar plunge is definitely the most exciting part of the event," said Lee Wilder, the executive director of the Baldwinsville Chamber of Commerce, which is the lead organization involved with the event. "People come to plunge from all parts of Onondaga County and they all come for a different purpose. Some come strictly to support the charities, some in honor of one who passed away, others just to be crazy and do something different with friends."

Willing participants can pair up for the walk, skip or run from the warm tent on shore to the frigid waters and back again. Proceeds from the event benefit Ronald McDonald House Local Charities of CNY, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of CNY and the Baldwinsville Chamber of Commerce.

"If you're looking to start the New Year off in a more outlandish way, take the plunge to help out some charities," Wilder said.

The plunge takes place at 3:15 p.m. Saturday Jan. 24. Plungers can register between 1 and 3 p.m. with a minimum $100 sponsorship. This year, a corporate challenge has been added. Any company or organization can form a team of 10 or more, with a minimum $50 sponsorship per person or $500 per team. Challenge a competitor, a neighboring fire department or another sports team to see who can raise more money.

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