This weekend marks the fourth annual Baldwinsville Big Chill.
"People complain there is nothing to do in the cold weather. This [event] gives them something to do," said Tony Saraceni, who helps coordinate the Chamber of Commerce event.
Saraceni encourages everyone, including those hibernating for the winter, to get out for the many activities planned for this weekend including a wine, cheese and chocolate event, snowshoe relay races, best in bowl cook-off and, of course, the polar bear plunge.
"Dress for the weather and watch these crazy people jump in a frozen river," said Saraceni, who has jumped in the frozen river every year since the event began.
In addition to providing entertainment in the chill of winter, proceeds from the event benefit local charities including the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Ronald McDonald House Charities of CNY and The Greater Baldwinsville Chamber of Commerce.
A Wine, Cheese and Chocolate event replaces last year's Casino Night event. Organizers had to change the event because state laws require all casino events to be held at a municipal building.
"We didn't want to compromise the event moving it from the Red Mill Inn to a municipal building," Saraceni said, adding they were disappointed about losing the casino event. However, they have Swedish Hill, along with sister companies Goose Watch and Penguin Bay for the Wine, Cheese and Chocolate event, as well as Speach Family Candy Shoppe and Buttercup Cheese.
Held from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday night, the event features wine, cheese and chocolate tastings as well as live entertainment and raffles throughout the evening. For tickets, call 638-0550.
Also new this year is the snowshoe relay race. Beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday at Mercer Park (Baldwinsville), teams of four will each run 250 yards on a snow course. Snow shoes will be provided for participants and those who own snow shoes are welcome to use them. Prizes will be awarded to the winning teams.