Courageous souls brave the cold at annual Polar Bear Dip


Polar Bear Dip1By Ron Giofu


Despite a cold wind and freezing temperatures, a group of about 20 brave souls took a dip in the waters of Lake Erie all in the sake of charity.

The Amherstburg Optimist Club and the Harrow Kinsmen Club presented their 11th annual Polar Bear Dip Saturday afternoon. The actual dip itself took place off the frigid beach near Colchester Marina with festivities before and after the event taking place at the Shooter’s Roadhouse location in Harrow.

Brandon Renaud, president of the Amherstburg Optimist Club, estimated it was his seventh time braving the cold water but said this year wasn’t as bad as previous years.

“It was actually pretty warm,” he said. “It wasn’t too bad at all.”

Renaud was hoping the amount of dippers would be higher this year.

“We were hoping for more,” he admitted. “I think it was the weather. I think the cold wind scared everyone off.”

“We got a lot of dippers from Amherstburg,” added Keith Bridgen, owner of the Harrow Shooter’s location.

Bridgen said one person made “a very generous donation” in exchange for two waitresses to participate in this year’s Polar Bear Dip with the waitresses accepting the offer.

Renaud said he thoroughly enjoys taking part in the Polar Bear Dip every year.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “I love it. It’s a rush. It’s always great to help out families in need.”

As of Monday, the Polar Bear Dip had raised just shy of $3,000. Those proceeds will be split between the Amherstburg Optimist Club and the Harrow Kinsmen Club.

The Amherstburg Optimist Club will put their share of the proceeds towards the club’s annual Christmas gift giving program. The amount of families in need the club can support depends annually on how much they are able to raise.

The program also sees community projects in Harrow get assistance as the Harrow Kinsmen put their proceeds towards projects in their municipality.

“Thank you to Keith, his staff and the Shooters in Harrow as well as the staff of the Shooter’s in Amherstburg for all their help,” added Renaud.

Renaud said Bridgen donated all the food for Saturday’s event and had the t-shirts printed up. There were numerous other sponsors that assisted with donations for the Polar Bear Dip, he added, and that the club is equally grateful for their support as well.

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