More jumpers, thinner ice predicted for Freezing for a Reason

 

HOW CHILL WILL IT BE? John Tevanian reacts to running into Highland Lake during last year's Freezing for a Reason. What: Freezing for a Reason, fundraiser for the Harvest Hills Animal Shelter When: Saturday, 2 p.m., an hour LATER than previous years’ start time Where: Highland Lake in Bridgton How much: $50 minimum to jump; $5 for button to attend the Winter Carnival and be eligible for prize drawings

HOW CHILL WILL IT BE? John Tevanian reacts to running into Highland Lake during last year's Freezing for a Reason.
What: Freezing for a Reason, fundraiser for the Harvest Hills Animal Shelter
When: Saturday, 2 p.m., an hour LATER than previous years’ start time
Where: Highland Lake in Bridgton
How much: $50 minimum to jump; $5 for button to attend the Winter Carnival and be eligible for prize drawings

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

Jumping into a western Maine lake during Feburary is not for the faint of heart.

It takes a hearty soul to jump into 40 degree water in the middle of winter.

Despite that, one organizer of the Freezing For a Reason polar plunge predicts that a record number of jumpers will test their mettle at Highland Lake this Saturday.

“On Tuesday, we had 54 preregistered jumpers. I think this will be a record year for jumpers. I know major teams have not signed up yet,” according to Joan McBurnie, the executive director of Harvest Hills Animal Shelter.

“I hear there is a team dressing in orange this year. I know there will be a man dressed in a tuxedo. Some people say they are not telling me what their costumes are because they want me to be surprised,” McBurnie said.

There is still time to register as a jumper, she said.

“We want to encourage people to sign up. They could come in today or Friday to get the paperwork done. That means less paperwork down at the lake,” McBurnie said.

“We are trying to get people signed up sooner. At least, we have 54 people preregistered. If we have 15 to 20 more to do on ‘jump day’ — we’re still in good shape,” she said.

Freezing is the shelter’s biggest fundraiser of the year.

The two biggest changes to Freezing in 2016 are: The actual jump will start an hour later than usual; and spectators will not be able to stand on the lake ice this year.

The jump starts at 2 p.m. on Saturday, and not at 1 p.m., she stressed.

The jump is being held an hour later than past years’ to better coordinate with the Winter Carnival activities going on around town, McBurnie said.

The Greater Bridgton Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce has a goal of retaining more of the crowd, keeping people in Bridgton during the time between the end of the polar plunge and the fireworks display at 6 p.m., she said.

Secondly, the ice will be too thin to hold the weight of spectators.

“We will be doing the best we can to keep specators off the ice. Those areas will be roped off,” McBurnie said.

In addition to playing it safe by staying off the lake ice, people are being asked to plan ahead when it comes to parking spots.

In the hours before the jump, beachfront parking spots will be sparce, she said. Some people might opt to park at the Municipal Complex parking area or at the old town hall lot, she said. Getting to the lake might involve some walking, she said.

Plus, prepare for possible precipitation — in the form of rain.

As of Tuesday, the National Weather Service forecasted a 60% chance of rain after 1 p.m. on Saturday.

“I don’t think I have ever thought we would have to worry about rain during Freezing,” McBurnie said.

“I have requested a hat with a built-in umbrella,” she said, making a reference to the fact that she won’t have a spare hand during the day of the jump.

“It is going to be like 45 degrees! I am hoping we have light snow,” she said.

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