|Michael Olhausen, Prescott Valley, takes first place Saturday in the Ice Princess contest for hairiest-chested man, winning a grill from Ace Hardware, a tiara and sash. Olhausen reigns until next year’s annual Polar Bear Splash.|
Trib Photo/Sue Tone
|The 8th Annual Polar Bear Splash event attracted 38 people who jumped into the 33-degree water at Mountain Valley Splash outdoor pool in Prescott Valley, Ariz., on Jan. 5. Festivities included the Ice Princess Contest for the hairiest chest (men only), free pancake breakfast, ice cream eating contest for all ages, crafts, and the Duck Slide Contest. Photos by Sue Tone.|
Crisp, clear weather at Prescott Valley's Mountain Splash pool welcomed the New Year's event that provides a brisk jumpstart for many brave souls who take the plunge into icy waters.
Air temperature: 51 degrees.
Water temperature: 33.5 degrees.
Veteran leaper at Saturday's 8th annual Polar Bear Splash, Raelynn Winkle, said it's getting a little too crowded for her. Eight years ago, less than 10 people lined the edge of the pool and jumped into the frigid water. This year's participants numbered 38, said Robert Kieren, PV Aquatics and Ice supervisor.
"I'm not really going for prizes. I jump in and jump out," Winkle said minutes after climbing out of the pool. The PV graphic artist said this may be her final year, as 7-year veteran Sparky Knowles from Kingman couldn't make it, breaking a pact they made eight years ago. Winkle is the only person to have participated in every Splash since its inception.
It was Paul Wittenberg's first year to jump. His grandson, Tyler Wittenberg, talked him into it, he said. The 65-year-old Minnesotan grabbed one of the tokens on the bottom of the pool, while Tyler "swam right over the top of me" to snatch up two. The tokens are turned in for prizes.
Second-year veteran Alfredo Forbes called last year's splash "an experience."
"And this year is another experience," he said as he prepared by stretching on deck to "get the kinks out of my bones."
The Ice Princess honor for hairiest chest (men only) went to Michael Olhausen, second place winner in 2012.
KPPV radio announcer Jean Lupa asked all eight contestants to answer a question: If you win, how will you save the world? Answers ranged from "I would put my shirt back on," to "I would donate generously to Nair."
Parks and Rec workers created a sledding hill nearby by running a snowmaking machine from 9 p.m. the night before to about 7:45 a.m. the day of the event.
"It was definitely a process," Kieren said, adding that the 12 inches soon packed down to 6-7 inches of snow that children and parents enjoyed sledding down.
The event attracted about 250 participants who cheered on the swimmers, helped youngsters at the crafts tables, and chowed down on a free pancake breakfast. Many local businesses contributed to making the 2013 Polar Bear Splash a success.