The last thing most people are thinking about in the middle of the winter is a refreshing dip in Brandywine Creek.But that's just what a few dozen brave souls did last Saturday when they took the Polar Plunge to benefit the Brandywine Valley Association's Make-a-Splash fund drive.
Exactly 108 people of all ages and walks of life assembled at the Brandywine Picnic Park last weekend to raise funds for the BVA and to raise a variety of conservation issues surrounding the watershed.
In total, the organization took in just over $8, 000 from Saturday's event, including corporate sponsors and pre-registration figures. The bathers were charged with gathering sponsors at $25 each to take a dip in the 44-degree Brandywine.
Managing Director Jim Jordan, a fellow polar bear who organized the event for the BVA, said that the event went beyond his expectations.
"It was great, and we're absolutely going to do it again next year," Jordan said.
Ash from the bonfire fell like snow as the bathers lined up at the shore around 11:15 a.m., with gooseflesh and foot stomping abound.
The bathers wore everything from Speedos and bikinis to a suit coat and slacks to one gentleman in a black and red luchador mask who went by the name Brandywine Bill.
When 11:30 rolled around and the whistle blew, most of the participants waded about knee-deep into the creek before hightailing it back to shore. But a lonesome few swam across to the far banks and frolicked there for a few moments.
By 11:35, it was all over except for the shivering.
"It was cold!" was the simultaneous assessment from Kennett High School students Natalie Gustavson and Jennifer Byrnes after they ran from the shore to the warmth of a few beach towels.
Saturday's plunge was the first time either girl had ever taken a wintertime dip, but they said they had a blast doing it.
"Next year, we'll be back," Natalie said.
It was also the first time for Stephanie Madison, who had organized the crew of kids from Kennett to participate in the plunge.
"I loved it," Madison said. "I was worried that it would be too cold, but it wasn't. It was exhilarating, I'd do it again tomorrow."
Unionville School District Director of Secondary Curriculum and Instruction John Sanville also took the plunge, along with a handful of students from the Unionville High School environmental club, who entered as a team.
"It was fantastic," Sanville said. "And I'm looking forward next year to building this thing. This is our district, this is our neighborhood and we should be involved."
Tyler Bellows, a student at Unionville High School, summed up the event with one quick statement.
"I can't feel my legs," he said with a shaky grin. "But it was great."