CALAIS, Maine — Dippers are bracing themselves for a challenge — taking off their clothes, putting on their swimsuits and taking the plunge in some icy water.
The ninth annual Polar Bear Dip is set for noon Friday, Feb. 27, at Split Rock at Pleasant Point Reservation.
The Washington County Community College student senate is organizing the event, which will benefit the Ronald McDonald House in Bangor. The Ronald McDonald facility provides free support and shelter to families of seriously ill children receiving treatment at hospitals in Bangor.
People from Washington County use the facility.
Darin McGaw, WCCC assistant dean of students, said last week that a WCCC student used the facility when his sister was ill. “So he has a personal thing going and he wants to participate because of that.”
This year’s theme for the Polar Bear Dip is “Polarstock” a takeoff on the 1969 concert and festival near Woodstock, N.Y.
The students are asking participants to dust off their peace signs, put on their bell-bottoms and tie-dyed shirts and join in the fun. “Come dressed as your favorite musician character at that time,” McGaw added.
Last year, the dip raised $12,000. The student senate hopes to raise about $10,000 this year.
“We’re concerned of setting too high a goal given the economic conditions [in the country],” McGaw said.
Dippers come from all over the state, as well as from the New Brunswick Community College in St. Andrews to participate.
A large contingent of dippers from Calais High School is expected to participate.
Again this year, the college’s culinary arts class is offering a “hot” twist to an old event with its cook-off contest at 11:30 a.m. at the Split Rock site a half-hour before the dip. The winner of the cook-off will compete in the state contest at the Blaine House later this year.
“We seem to have a group of folks coming out that don’t necessarily dip. They are coming to watch the event but they are also there for our culinary arts students to sample the food,” McGaw said.
There will be a bonfire to warm everyone before the jump.
WCCC students Tara Tibbs and Aaron Carter are in the thick of the planning, helping the student senate get ready.
Carter will dip, Tibbs will not. She plans to hold the towel for a friend.
Neither is willing to forecast the weather that day.
“It’s Maine. It could be snowing. It could be 100 degrees. You never know,” Carter said.
Pledges come from dippers who ask family, friends and the community to donate.
The first polar bear dip was held in 2000 and $1,600 was raised. There will be a souvenir for dippers who gain a minimum of $75 in pledges. In years past it has been a sweat shirt or a hoodie.
All participants and spectators are encouraged to come in costumes from the era. They would like to see 200 dippers this year.
There were about 130 dippers last year.
Sponsor sheets are available on the college’s Web site at www.wccc.me.edu, or by stopping by the campus. Pledge sheets also are available at the Calais City Building, Calais Free Library, Eastern Maine Electric Co-op and Johnson’s True Value Hardware.
For information on Polarstock 2009, contact WCCC student senate at 454-1094 or Fran Tracy, WCCC student senate adviser, at 454-1054.