Polar Plunge caps off Winterfest

Dozens of swimmers braved the frigid waters of the Grand River's south channel on Sunday afternoon for the first Polar Plunge, a Winterfest event benefiting the Tri-Cities Area Habitat for Humanity.
Alex Doty
Jan 30, 2012


During the event, participants lined the docks at Chinook Pier for a chance to jump in the water — and, one by one, they hopped in and out of the water.

Grand Haven resident Kevin Stafford, who was jumping with his son, Saxton Stafford, said they heard about the event through some friends who planned to participate in the first-time plunge.

“We had a couple of friends that were doing it this year and we thought, ‘Well, let’s jump in,’” Kevin Stafford said.

Saxton Stafford said the cold water wasn’t as bad as he had anticipated.

“It was pretty cold, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be though,” he said. “It kind of sucks the air right out of you.”

To see more photos from the Polar Plunge, click here.

During the event, Grand Haven Department of Public Safety officers were on hand — both on shore and in the water — to help people during their plunge.

Timothy Bush of Grand Haven said he was glad to participate since it was for a good cause.

“I had heard about it at the grocery store and thought I’d try it out,” he said. “It’s something to do.”

Bush added that with the proceeds going to charity, he was hoping that it would make the jump “a little warmer.”

Winterfest President Kevin Galbavi said he was impressed with the turnout.

“I think for the first year, this was a stellar event,” he said. “I think the turnout has been great, I think the response has been wonderful — (and) the weather cooperated, which is great.”

Galbavi said they’ll now be looking to make improvements for next year’s Polar Plunge.

“I think for the first year, the idea was to get the event off the ground and have a successful event under the belt,” he said. “And then we’ll look at it, grow it and make it bigger and better every year — which is how we try to do everything at Winterfest.”

The amount raised for Habitat for Humanity on Sunday was not immediately available.



It is always funny to hear about things like this. People jumping in frigid water basically just to say that they did it is both entertaining and funny. I don't think I would ever be that brave.


It either takes a lot of guts or maybe a little bit of alcohol to jump into water that is freezing so you should not take it lightly but there are many people who do it.


says the guy who didn't do it


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