This weekend is the first one in the month of February, which here in coastal Delaware means it’s time for hundreds of otherwise normal human beings to strip down to their swimsuits and take a running jump into the icy waters of the Atlantic.
Yes, it’s time for the 2017 Polar Bear Plunge to benefit Special Olympics Delaware, and if the last few years are any indication, hundreds of people will again raise tens of thousands of dollars for the statewide charity.
This is the 26th year for the popular local event, which has become the largest annual fundraiser for Special Olympics.
Since 1991, the February plunge has benefitted the year-round programs of the First State organization, raising more than $8 million in the process. The event has become so popular that it's spurned an entire weekend full of events and created a huge financial boon to coastal Delaware during the offseason.
So if you’re up for a little wintertime fun this weekend, here are a few of the highlights for Polar Bear Plunge Weekend.
Polar Bear Plunge. Plunge time is Sunday at 1 p.m. sharp, but check in begins three hours prior at the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk. Visit www.plungede.org for a checklist of things to bring, as well as more information on the weekend’s main event.
Fire & Ice Festivities. Head to Rehoboth Beach Fire Hall on Saturday from 12 to 3 p.m. for the Polar Ice Cream Throwdown, as well as the Hot Wing Sampling contest. Restaurants participating in the hot wings competition include Bethany Blues, Dos Locos, Jam Bistro, Rehoboth Ale House, Sherms Catering and the Pickled Pig Pub.
5K Run to the Plunge. The run starts at 1 p.m. on Saturday and costs $25. If there's rain on Saturday, the run will be moved to 8 a.m. on Sunday.
Chili Contest. From 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday at 12 participating restaurants in Rehoboth. Ballots can be purchased for $5 at any of the participating restaurants or at the souvenirs area of the Atlantic Sands. Anyone can vote in the contest, but you must visit at least five restaurants in order to do so. Participating restaurants for 2017 include Atlantic Boardwalk Grille, Blackwall Hitch, Café Azafran, Dos Locos, Mariachi, Modern Mixture, Murph’s Beef & Ale, Nicola Pizza, Papa Grande’s, Pig + Fish, Rehoboth Ale House and The Pond Bar and Grill.
Ice Sculpting Contest. Always a fan favorite, these unique creations will come to life on Rehoboth Avenue from 9 to 11 a.m. on Sunday. Judging will be held at 11:30 a.m.
Sandcastle Art. New for 2017, sand artist Andy West will be in Rehoboth on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., creating some of his magic. West has finished in the Top 10 of the Rehoboth Beach Sandcastle Contest for the last 9 years and will be working on the beach, just south of Rehoboth Avenue.
During a time of year when things are much quieter in coastal Delaware than during the spring and summer months, why not come on out and witness an unusual Sussex County tradition. It may be February and it may be cold, but it’s great fun for a great cause.
We hope to see you there!