Early this morning, disappointment filled the air as Special Olympics Maryland made the gut wrenching decision to cancel today’s Polar Bear Plunge and the accompanying PlungeFest.
Weather conditions deteriorated through the night and began to look better in the morning, but high winds and snow were forecast for today as well. With 7,000 people plunging making sure they are all safe is their top priority. The waves in the icy Chesapeake Bay were about 3 feet making it difficult for any rescue divers to maintain their positions. Ice cuts were likely along with frostbite and hypothermia.
If you recall, two years ago, the Rams Head Ice Lodge blew over just prior to the event and was replaced overnight with a roofless version. With 30 mph winds expected this afternoon it was not worth the risk to allow thousands of people under the tents. In fact, some of the smaller tents have already begun to come down.
Immediately after the cancelation, people began to send messages on Facebook and Twitter about getting their sweatshirt, a refund on parking, and wanting to know if the Plunge was going to have the bands playing somewhere else today. It is not about a sweatshirt. It is about supporting a good cause and keeping people safe. While I am sure there will be a method to get the sweatshirts to everyone, let’s ease up a little and let the organizers handle the critical issues they need to handle right now.
As of this writing, organizers are working to see if they can arrange a plunge-only event in the near future. Securing a location and logistics is never easy, so stay tuned.
Donate, Additional Information
In any event, remember that this is all for the athletes. The organizers have a lot to worry about right now. First and foremost is the safety of the people on site. Secondly, they need to worry about all equipment and merchandise on site. This event is costly to put on and as The Capital pointed out in a recent article, donations are down, so this cancellation will be very challenging and hopefully Special Olympics can recover. In fact, now might be a good time to make an additional donation.
For the most current information on any re-schedules or other information, please visit the Special Olympics Maryland website, or like their official page on Facebook, or follow their official feed on Twitter.
Here are some other images from this morning.