The Scott family prepared like any family would for a day spent at Lake Monroe — beach towels, sandals, swim trunks — but this past Sunday morning, it was 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
Fog blanketed the surface of the icy lake, creating an eerie scene, as families and friends gathered around the beach head and took their last sips of hot cocoa before losing their layers of puffy winter jackets and caps.
When the clock struck 10 a.m., two members of the Scott family, along with more than 20 other swimmers, dashed towards the icy waters to celebrate the 6th annual Bloomington Polar Bear Plunge.
“'Why am I this stupid?'” Eric Scott said. “I don’t know, but we’ll be back next year.”
The water temperature was roughly 41 degrees, which Dustin Dillard, a Perry Clear Creek Fire Department EMT, said can be dangerous after several minutes.
“After about five minutes your core temperature will begin to drop, and your body will have a hard time moving,” Dillard said.
Dillard was more concerned about the sharp ice.
This year’s plungers were stopped about eight feet into the lake and were met by a large sheet of ice an inch and a half thick.
The ice was thick enough to withstand the weight of a half a dozen kids sliding barefoot across the lake.
There was splashing, yelling and dunking, and, for a split moment when the sharp winds died down, it appeared as if it was a warm summer day at the beach.
Shortly after 10 a.m., those who braved the ice retreated to their towels drying off their beet-red legs and feet. Teeth still chattering, families huddled together and embraced one another to regain warmth.
This was Bloomington resident Jeanice Chastain’s sixth year putting on the event, which raises money for Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington. Most participants donate online, but Chastain said they raised over $100 at the event, not including online donations.
“We’re not worried about the ice at all," Chastain said. "It’s been much colder than this before."
The plunge is normally held on New Year’s Day and symbolizes a fresh start to the year, Chastain said. The event was postponed this year due to frigid temperatures.
Chastain said the plunge normally attracts about 150 participants.
“We’ll be lucky if we get 20 to 30 this year,” Chastain said.
Chastain said she is looking forward to growing the event and raising more money in the following years.