The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

January 2, 2014

Cold start

Polar bears greet new year with icy plunge

SHARON — While some of us made New Year’s resolutions to do everything from getting in better physical shape to spending more time with our loved ones, about 100 people took a far more shocking approach and jumped feet-first into the icy cold Shenango River, welcoming 2014 with a big splash.

Organizers of the event said Wednesday’s dip may have been a tad bit colder than in previous years, with the water temperature at 39 degrees, according to Matt Lenzi, who along with his wife Darlene and friend Todd Boyer had participants sign waivers acknowledging the risks. The air temperature was a brisk 22 degrees.

“I like to say it’s a great way to wash off last year and baptize yourself for the New Year. Sometimes I say it’s a heck of a cure for a hangover, too,” Lenzi said.

Snow was falling and teeth chattering as participants stripped down to bikinis and swim trunks, lining up to make a mad dash into the murky water behind Quaker Steak & Lube in Sharon.

“Remember,” Lenzi instructed the crowd, “if you don’t go all the way under, you’re not a true polar bear. If you don’t go all the way down, then you only just got wet,” he said.

The oldest participant was Clarence Harms, of New Wilmington, who will turn 80 in a few days. A college professor, Harms said the polar bear plunge was one of the items on his bucket list and he missed out on a similar opportunity when he lived in Alaska.

“I like the excitement of it,” he said. Harms dared his grandson, Chance, to go in with him. “I will. Then I’ll come out and make a snow angel. I’ll be fine,” he said.

Harms, an environmental scientist, has crossed a lot off his bucket list already, including scuba diving with sharks and crossing the African Serengeti in a hot air balloon. Left to do yet, he said, is to dive the Great Barrier Reef “before it or I am gone,” he said.

For Gino Lenzi, a son of Matt and Darlene, the frigid swim is a holiday tradition.

“I love it. At first, it takes your breath away. Then it’s a rush,” he said.

Sisters Suzanne and Kelsey Kepple, of Sharon, weren’t sure what to expect.

“I guess I’m an adrenaline junkie,” Suzanne said, “and I talked her into doing it with me.”

“This might be one and done for me,” said Dave Mogg, of Hubbard, who came with some friends. “I’m not big on making resolutions or doing that kind of stuff. But this is one thing I’d like to take off my bucket list,” he said.

Polar bear plunges have been going on nationwide since the 1920s. Typically a fundraising event for charities, with the biggest one held in Maryland, where “Plungapalooza” raised $2.2 million for Special Olympics with some 12,000 participants.

The Shenango Polar Bear Club was the idea of Boyer, who learned of the events in other places and convinced the Lenzis to join him for a dip in the Monongahela River in Pittsburgh a few years ago.

“And I thought, ‘We have a river here, we can do it at home,’ ” he said.

Though the event has raised money in the past, this year’s jump was just for fun, just to keep the tradition going, he said.

Text Only
Local News
  • News briefs from April 24, 2014

    April 24, 2014

  • Bus cameras will be listening, too

    Hermitage School District is taking advantage of a recently enacted exemption to the state’s wiretap law in allowing officials to turn on the audio recording capability on school bus and vehicle video cameras.

    April 24, 2014

  • Union, city OK 4-year contract

    Hermitage’s nonuniformed employees have a new four-year contract that gives them average pay hikes of 2.5 percent a year and the opportunity to live outside the city limits, while allowing administrators more flexibility in scheduling.

    April 24, 2014

  • 2 principals to be hired

    Sharpsville Area school directors needed a shove to make a decision but the board voted Tuesday to interview candidates and hire two principals for 2014-15.

    April 24, 2014

  • Prison term upheld for sex offender

    A sex offender challenging a 4- to 8-year prison sentence for a probation violation lost an appeal of that sentence.

    April 23, 2014

  • Man, 24, must register as sex offender for life

    The Ohio man who exposed himself to Sharon girls on their way to school last fall must register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life when he gets out of jail.

    April 23, 2014

  • Man deemed predator – for now

    A former Sharon man was sent to the state prison system Tuesday for corrupting the morals of a teenage girl, but the question of whether his penalties under Megan’s Law will stand could be subject to future legal proceedings.

    April 23, 2014

  • Not even waste will be wasted

    Tom Darby admits he wishes the startup of the anaerobic digestion process at the Hermitage Water Pollution Control Plant had moved along much faster.

    April 23, 2014

  • 3rd Earth Fest draws families to Penn State

    Penn State Shenango’s Earth Fest has become a spring tradition for area residents.
    Families poured into downtown Sharon for the campus’ third annual sustainability celebration.

    April 22, 2014

  • Amish clean Shenango River Volunteers protect Shenango River

    Shenango River Watchers has spent more than a decade working to clean up the Shenango and improve recreational access to its water and banks.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • For many, recycling’s become way of life

    When Pennsylvania mandated curbside recycling for its larger municipalities in 1998 – those with more than 5,000 people – there was grumbling about government interference in the lives of everyday people.

    April 22, 2014

  • Many items can’t be thrown away

    The computer screen in front of you isn’t likely to do you much harm, at least not until it’s tossed in a landfill where the lead-filled components start to leak and eventually find their way into your drinking water, according to Jerry Zona, director of the Lawrence-Mercer County Recycling/Solid Waste department.

    April 22, 2014

  • David Sykes' solar panels Earthworks

    While touring Germany last year, David Sykes spotted solar panels resting in a residential back yard.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Burned using Icy Hot, woman claims

    A Grove City woman has sued Chattem Inc. and Rite Aid of Pennsylvania Inc., alleging she suffered a second-degree chemical burn using one of Chattem’s Icy Hot pain relief products.

    April 21, 2014

  • Family outing Family friendly

    “We’re No. 5’’ isn’t a sports cheer you’ll hear any time soon.
    But considering the lumps the greater area has gotten over the years on economic rankings, it’s an outright victory.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
AP Video
Sharonheraldnewspaper Facebook Page