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Brave residents take plunge in support of local food bank

by Mike Robinson

GRAND VALLEY - While the New Year’s Day tradition for many is recovering from celebrations the night before and preparing to face a list of resolutions for the coming year, residents here take the plunge another way.

But instead of snow, the unexpected rainfall meant it was not just the participants who got wet this year.

The Grand Valley Polar Bear Dip is now in its 21st year and over two dozen participants from across Wellington and Dufferin Counties took a plunge into the Grand River on Jan. 1.

A covered tent provided some respite for spectators and participants as they gathered for the show.

Busses donated by Davidson Bus Lines, of Grand Valley, were used as change rooms.

The event, hosted by the Grand Valley Lions Club, supported the local food bank.

One quip made during the event was that the water was probably warmer than the air. It was nearly a tie. The water was at 32.5 degrees Fahrenheit (just above freezing) - just a bit cooler than the air temperature.

Everyone seemed to have their own reasons for being there - and quite a few were first-timers at the plunge.

Dave Robertson, one of the founding members of the event, was there again to take the plunge.

“It’s nice to be back on the swimming side, rather than the organizing side,” he said. “I was coerced by my sister-in-law [from Brampton] who came out for the first time last year.”

Julia Phillips, of Guelph, and Javier Santamaria, of Orangeville took the festivities a step further.

Those friends share the same birthday - Jan. 1 - and chose to take a unique spin on their birthday celebrations.

Phillips said it was Santamaria’s idea.

She had planned on coming this year anyway but had been in contact with him as a surprise.

“It’s our birthday and it’s a great way to celebrate the beginning of the new year,” Santamaria said.

“It’s also a bit scary,” said Phillips noting it was her first time for the event.

For Santamaria, this was his second time taking the plunge.

“The first time was a couple of years ago when it was actually a hole in the ice. This is going to be different.”

January 6, 2012


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