A tag-along day on Lake Bemidji

I tagged along with Bethany today as she covered Polar Daze for the Pioneer. I figured it would make a cold outdoor activity more fun for both of us, as well as give us a rare opportunity to do some walking.

A brisk half-hour walk before the Brrrmidji Polar Plunge worked out well for us; while we were ice-cold earlier, by the time of the Plunge, it wasn’t so bad. We were at  least done complaining that even our foreheads were cold. I had grumbled that it felt like someone was injecting frozen Botox into my forehead.

But we had it made, compared to the more than 100 people who jumped, walked, cannonballed, belly-flopped, somersaulted, tumbled and in whatever other ways plunged into a giant hole in Lake Bemidji.

One of the coolest things about watching the Brrrmidji Plunge is how the faces change as the plungers enter the water.

Above, we see a happy pair of kids, but as the boy hits the water, a look of shock and disbelief takes over. The girl, meanwhile, is still smiling. That’s because, in the second photo Bethany shot, she has yet to hit the water.

It didn’t take any of the jumpers long to clear out of the water and head for their trailers to dry off and change clothes.

This was the happiest reaction I think I’ve ever seen in a jumper. I have witnessed a few stoic reactions and he-man responses, but I’m not used to people looking *happy*. This guy,  Scott, looked like he’d just won a race. He was pumped. He even looked cheerful as he walked across the ice to the guys’ trailer.

It wouldn’t be the Brrrmidji Plunge without the Bemidji firefighters jumping in together. The first time I saw this event, I was late getting there, and I actually met the firefighters on the sidewalk as they ran from the lake to the Bemidji Fire Department at Fifth Street and America Avenue after their jump.  I wished that day that I’d had a camera, because that run is part of the tradition, too.

With Bemidji’s Paul Bunyan celebrating his 75th birthday all year, it was fitting the iconic lumberjack would make the plunge. Paul, also known as Dr. Mike Headlee of Explore Chiropractic, jumped last year as well, flinging the stuffed Babe the Blue Ox into the water ahead of him then, too. But this year Paul was joined by his wife, Lucette, as illustrated in folklore in Hackensack. They carried a brightly wrapped birthday present, as well as a birthday cupcake Lucette (Lorrie Richardson) handed off just before she jumped.

Jumpers seemed to come out of the woodwork, from solo artists to groups of friends, family members and co-workers.  Some were seasoned veterans of this event, while others did it for the first time.

“It’s overrated,” one man said as he left the trailer after getting dressed. “Once in a lifetime is enough.”

(Zero isn’t so bad, either ….)

My favorite quote Bethany got, and this is more paraphrasing than quoting until I can see her actual article, was from a boy who jumped with his dad and sister: “It was great. I had a lot of fun. I’ll never do it again.”

He seemed to agree with the once-in-a-lifetime guy.

How about you? Have you ever made the leap? If not, would you consider it?


One thought on “A tag-along day on Lake Bemidji

  1. Madness. I celebrated with other sane people at the free-will-offering Humane Society chili feed at the Legion. I didn’t sample each of the dozen or more entries, just had good bowls of two different chilis, three corn muffins, and a brownie. Made up for the fat grams with a very lean supper. They had a good crowd.

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