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VIDEO: Alexandria Polar Plunge breaks records

St. Mary's School Plunging Saints leaped into the brisk waters of Lake Darling on Sunday at Arrowwood Resort and Conference Center in Alexandria. (Echo Press photo by Crystal Dey)1 / 2
One of the Affinity Plus Alexandria crew reacted to the chill after taking the plunge. (Echo Press photo by Crystal Dey)2 / 2

Ice swimming. Norwegians, Swedes and Fins do it all the time for no apparent reason. Folks of all ilks banded together on Sunday at Arrowwood Resort and Conference Center in Alexandria to be freezin' for a reason - to support Special Olympics by jumping into the icy-cold waters of Lake Darling.

The Alexandria Polar Bear Plunge started with 45 brrrrave souls six years ago. Each year the previous record for number of "plungers" and money raised to benefit Special Olympians statewide has been broken. 2013 was no exception.

"It was absolutely another record breaking year," said event organizer Keith Melrose. "There were more than 500 jumpers."

Melrose is an officer with the Alexandria Police Department. Polar Bear Plunge events are organized by Minnesota law enforcement as part of the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR).

When the final totals came in on Monday, 510 jumpers were registered, raising $93,000 through pledges. Plungers are required to raise a minimum of $75; but as evidenced by the total, they exceeded expectations.

An estimated 400 or more spectators could be seen gathered around the man-made ice pool, cheering on participants throughout the event. Beginning as an overcast day with temperatures hovering around freezing, the weather seemed to get sunnier and warmer as more plungers took their daring dip.

LETR is a grassroots fundraiser that increases public awareness for Special Olympics, not only in the state but worldwide. In 2012, LETR raised $3.1 million for Special Olympics Minnesota.

There have been a grand total of 1,708 jumps and $309,923 has been raised in Alexandria.

PAST PLUNGES

Year - $ Raised - # of Plungers

2012 - $71,839 - 336

2011 - $48,914 - 306

2010 - $45,204 - 276

2009 - $29,050 - 156

2008 - $14,408 - 79

2007 - $7,508 - 45

Information provided by www.plungemn.org.

DeyCrystal Dey Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota's Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter at @CrystalDey_Echo.

Crystal Dey

Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota’s Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter @Crystal_Dey.

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