Thrill seekers prepare for annual Polar Dip in Blackfalds

No amount of Arctic preparations will help those taking the bone-chilling plunge in Sylvan Lake’s Polar Dip or in Blackfalds’ Penguin Dip this Family Day weekend.

No amount of Arctic preparations will help those taking the bone-chilling plunge in Sylvan Lake’s Polar Dip or in Blackfalds’ Penguin Dip this Family Day weekend.

While temperatures are milder this year, 57 participants will be jumping into the below-zero Sylvan Lake waters, west of the pier, for the Polar Dip on Saturday at 1 p.m.

“Firefighters cut a hole in the ice and the dippers wait in the tent with a heater until their name is called,” said facility booking clerk and organizer Gerrie Friesen, who adds that participants each raise at least $50 to go towards local charities ranging from the Food bank, Victim Services, and the United Way.

Last year, the event raised $24,500.

“A lot of people come and cheer it on,” Friesen added, noting that public viewing is from the pier only.

Other Sylvan Lake Winterfest activities, east of the pier, include a winter movie marathon from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., remote control oar races at 2:30 p.m., fireworks at 7 p.m. and a cardboard box sled race at 2 p.m., which replaces the past human curling event.

“Its a great opportunity for family and friends to get together,” said Sonia Munksgaard, Sylvan Lake special event co-ordinator.

In Blackfalds, 10 to 12 people will plunge into the Multi-Plex’s man-made pool for the fifth annual Penguin Dip on Monday starting at noon.

“I think we’ve got a good one this year,” Blackfalds community and development co-ordinator Sue Penner said about the Family Day celebrations.

“The fire department draws the water out of the fire hydrant so that will be as cold as a lake, I’m sure,” she said.

Those braving the freezing waters will return to the pool for a group photo after their plunge. All funds raised for the event will be given to local not-for-profits.

All events, except the fireworks at 7 p.m. at All-Star Park, will take place at the Multi-Plex at 5302 Broadway Ave.

New this year for Blackfalds is the addition of an ice sculptor, who will be on site at 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m.

Organizers say they don’t quite know what the sculptor will create but believe it may have to do with hockey.

“We’ve been looking to add this for quite awhile so it’s nice that we are finally doing this,” Penner said.

Family Day celebrations are also happening in Red Deer this weekend.

On Monday from 1 to 4 p.m., there will be cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, nature walks, a bonfire and crafts for the kids at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre at 6300 45th Ave.

Also on Monday from 1 to 4 p.m., the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery, at 4225 47th Ave., will celebrate Inuit culture with singer and storyteller Peggy Richardson. Bannock, creative art activities and music by The Cats and the Fiddlers will be featured. Admission is free.

jjones@bprda.wpengine.com