January 08, 2013 | 03:52 PMWILLIAMS BAY — What started 29 years ago after a barroom conversation continued like clockwork New Year's Day.
We're talking about the Polar Plunge held at the beach in Williams Bay.
Temperatures hovering near the zero mark didn't dissuade the plungers. In fact, several went in more than once.
One couple made a second entry because the person assigned to video the event had a camera malfunction or, perhaps, it was a human malfunction. In any case, the second frigid dip elicited the same thrills and screams that the first one did.
No one seemed the worse for wear and the bundled-up spectators seemed as chilly watching as those who took part. Several people showed up in costumes. One person had a surf board. And, for the first time, the Geneva Lake Cruise Line boat floated nearby. The heated boat offered a warm view of the events. If that wasn't enough, there was also a cash bar to keep the cold at bay.
Julie Palmersheim and Cathy Morava were among the original six who took the dive and hatched the idea while looking at the lake from a local watering hole. They've been doing it ever since.
Plungers came in several stripes and different types. Some proudly stripped down to bathing suits before and after as though it were any ordinary day at the beach. Others buried themselves in blankets awaiting the countdown.
No one splashed down silently. Everyone either gave a hoot and a holler or screamed in delight or pain — or sometimes both.
Participant Tim Caulfield summed up the attitude shared by others: "Everything you do the rest of the year will be easy."
Garrett Robers was among many Gage Marine employees taking the dip. Before jumping he explained, with a twinkle in his eye, that he and his cronies were jumping because "we're all college students, so we're smart." Afterward, he remarked that it felt like there were needles in his feet.
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As Regional News reporter Chris Schultz said about a previous Polar Plunge: "It wasn't exactly a day at the beach. Well, it was. But it was a very cold day."