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Big Chill boasts record amount of plungers

Plungers run in to the frigid waters of the Seneca River during the 2012 Polar Bear Plunge, part of Baldwinsville's fifth annual Big Chill event.

Plungers run in to the frigid waters of the Seneca River during the 2012 Polar Bear Plunge, part of Baldwinsville's fifth annual Big Chill event. Photo by Erin Wisneski.

— Last Saturday’s Polar Bear Plunge single handedly raised more money than last year's entire two-day Big Chill event.

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Tanya Kuropatwinski, of Baldwinsville, hurries out of the Seneca River after participating in the Polar Bear Plunge at Mercer Park today.

According to Cristina Jardine, co-chair of the Big Chill Committee, a record 150 plungers signed up for the Jan. 21 dip into the Seneca River raising roughly $27,000. Last year, the entire event raised $25,000 and the plunge alone raised $17,000.

“The weather was so great. I think people were motivated to come out to support it,” Jardine said.

Tanya Kuropatwinski, of Baldwinsville, took the plunge with a group of friends from the Greater Baldwinsville Chamber of Commerce. This was her second year participating.

"It was way warmer last year," she said, adding she does it because it is for a good cause.

Bystanders Susie Steinbaugh, of Lakeland, and Liverpool residents Jen Butler and Steve Glowacki attended to provide moral support for Kuropatwinski, their coworker. Glowacki said it was his first time attending the event, and is considering participating in the future.

"This is a really cool event," he said. "I could see myself jumping in."

Another plunger, Pat Fratangelo, was dressed to the T in a gown and shawl carrying a bouquet of flowers prior to her dip. She and friends Chuck Schmutz, Elsa and Greg Capria dressed up for their plunge as a wedding party.

"It's more fun to dress up and get in the water," Fratangelo said. The group was jumping for Finger Lakes Sky Divers.

Overall, the two-day event netted approximately $37,000, which allows the committee to distribute a little more than $12,000 to each not-for-profit (Ronald McDonald House of Central New York, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the Greater Baldwinsville Chamber of Commerce) benefitting from the event. The not-for-profits aren’t the only benefactors, however.

“This event attracts about 2,000 people, which really helps local businesses,” Jardine said, adding that the Wine, Cheese and Chocolate event held Jan. 20 at the Red Mill Inn was sold out for the second year in a row. “This has become a popular event as well.”

Winners of the Best-in-Bowl contest, which was held Saturday during the Polar Bear Plunge and featured three categories for entries, were Fresh Mex (Judge’s Choice), Tabatha’s Family Tree (People’s Choice) and Sammy Malone’s (Most Unique).

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