May 29, 2016


More than 200 jump into Chippewa Lake for Polar Bear event

CHIPPEWA LAKE — No one was wondering whether the water was cold. Going simply by the looks on their faces, they just knew it.

About 220 people made the plunge into a 35-degree Chippewa Lake this afternoon, jumping off the lake’s beachside dock solo or with a group of friends and/or relatives for the third annual Polar Bear Run, Walk and Jump. The number of participants exceeded last year’s total of 177.

Is it the Blue Man Group or the Smurfs? "Take your pick," said Eric Burlingame, the fourth from the left in this group of jumpers during today's third annual Polar Bear Run, Walk and Jump at Chippewa Lake. Pictured from left are Lake Erie College graduates Taylor Jonard, David Dunne, Kevin Chapman, Burlingame and Barrett Fredrickson. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY STEVE GRAZIER)

“It just takes your breath away, literally,” said Connie Wills, a Chippewa Lake resident minutes after making her third jump in three years into the chilly Chippewa water.

Wills and her daughter, Jessica Sanders, jumped into the water wearing outfits as Dr. Seuss characters, “Thing 1” and “Thing 2.” Wills was “Thing 1,” while Sanders was No. 2.

“It’s the same water, and we’ll be here next year,” said Sanders, while en route to her mother’s hot tub at home near the jump spot.

Many jumpers donned unique outfits to make their plunge today into the lake’s frigid water. Some work superhero costumes, such as Batman and Batgirl, Superman, Captain America, Wonder Woman and Aqua Man. Others dressed up as Trojan warriors, mountain men, Smurfs, clowns and zoo animals.

The “bacon and eggs” breakfast combo of Diane Jett and Jeremy Davis, both of Seville, were first-time jumpers. Jett wore a costume resembling a side order of bacon, and Davis was a pair of “sunny-side-up” eggs.

“This is on my Bucket List and good for charity. I’m just keeping Hawaii on my mind before I go,” Jett said prior to her plunge.

Read more on this story in Monday’s print and online editions of The Gazette.

Contact reporter Steve Grazier at (330) 721-4012 or

View photos at SmugMug