On Scene: Penguin Plunge | SteamboatToday.com

On Scene: Penguin Plunge

Margaret Hair

— The two years I’ve participated in Penguin Plunge have started and ended in almost exactly the same way:

A group of reporters from the Pilot & Today forms a team, recruiting as many people as possible who don’t know what the Plunge entails – mainly jumping into 32-degree water. Needless to say, the group generally consists of new-hires.

We wait as late as possible to register, choosing a team name and theme at the last minute. That theme will have more to do with availability of costume pieces than anything else.

Then, we do a fundraising sweep for the Healthcare Foundation for the Yampa Valley, collecting money to benefit Yampa Valley Medical Center. Money from this year’s Penguin Plunge will go toward the purchase of digital mammography equipment.

In 2008, we jumped as the “Hidden Valley Ranch Hands.” We forgot that many teams choose theme music for their jump and choreograph skits before leaping into 4 feet of pool water colder than anything that should be allowed to touch skin. We jumped to relative silence, offset by a few cheers.

You might think sucking all the noise out of an otherwise raucous community event one year would motivate our team to plan ahead. It didn’t.

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With three new team members and two team veterans out of town, the Pilot & Today crew dressed as turn-of-the-century newsies – small-brimmed caps, suspenders, newspapers, long socks and all. We asked event announcer Brian Harvey to find some Huey Lewis and the News to use as theme music about a minute and a half before our team jumped. Unfortunately, KBCR doesn’t stock much Huey.

Despite having messed up the fanfare of this event two years in a row, it’s impossible to make a misstep at Penguin Plunge. Everyone is there for a common cause, everyone is doing their best to stay warm, and everyone is about to jump into a pool so cold it numbs every extremity within half a second. It’s a bizarre choice for a fundraiser, and it’s one of the best community events of the year – nothing brings people together like a highly unadvisable leap into the unknown.

No matter the quality of our costumes or skit, everyone involved congratulated the Pilot team members when we got out of the water and ran for the hot tub. It was a warm feeling – even if it was associated with being frozen.