Hundreds of supporters of Special Olympics – many in outlandish costumes – lined the shores of Percy Priest Lake on Saturday morning for the 11th annual Polar Bear Plunge.
Some were there to take a dip into the 38-degree water; others were there to lend support and encouragement to their brave friends. But they all appeared to be having a good time.
This was Elizabeth Foy’s third year to participate, but she said it was her first year to “dress up” for the event.
“I was inspired by [creative costumes] last year, and believe it or not, my cousin had this leftover from Halloween,” she said of the bikini clad female fat suit she was wearing.
Her realistic-looking fat suit beat out a male Raggedy Ann, the Three Musketeers and a young Batman to win the best costume award.
Foy was part of team Ice Cold, a group of 10 from the Davidson County District Attorney’s Office, that raised over $5,000 for the event.
“Special Olympics is a great organization, and we’re glad to lend a hand,” she said.
“I have no comment on the weather,” Foy said. “As far as anyone knows it’s freezing out here.”
But it was not. Sunny skies on Saturday pushed temperatures near 60 degrees.
Some participants even spread out their towels for a little sunbathing after taking a dip.
“This was definitely our most successful [Polar Bear Plunge] and one of our warmest,” said Erin Birch, VP of development for Tennessee Special Olympics. “We had a lot of people coming out to watch and then deciding to join in.”
The final numbers: 180 people entered the water, and over $35,000 was raised for Special Olympics.
Construction at Nashville Shores, which under new ownership is nearly doubling in size for 2010, pushed the event to a different part of the lake, but that didn’t dampen spirits.
“It’s going to be a little muddy going in,” the announcer said as the first group of 15 plungers got ready to wade into the chilly waters. “Be careful. Please don’t drown anybody – not your wives, boyfriends, husbands.”
Fortunately, no one did.