2009 Polar Bear Plunge
 By Ed Simmons, Jr., reprinted, The Caroline Progress, February 12, 2009

With the temperature at 42 degrees and ice bobbing on the 35-degree water, 42 brave souls plunged into frigid Lake Caroline on Saturday morning, raising $18,668 to help the County needy pay for winter heat.

"There's still money coming in," said organizer Molly Gee of Wright's Chapel United Methodist Church in Ladysmith.

This is the fourth annual Polar Bear Plunge. Last year's Plunge brought in over $10,000.

Many local stars cavorted in outlandish costumes on the sand Saturday morning at Little Beach in Lake Caroline.

The coveted "Gold Plunger" went to Michael Smith of St. Mary's of the Annunciation Catholic Church who raised $2,700. A resident of Milford and an employee at the Department of Defense, he wowed the crowd dressed as a baby in bib, diapers, and clutching a baby bottle and enormous rattle.

Three others raised over $1,000 – Susan Hafey dressed as a purple penguin, Chris Penney in Dallas Cowboys face paint and Robert Harting a member of Rehoboth United Methodost Church in Chilesburg Va., who plunged as himself.

Nine more raised at least $500. One of these, Caroline businessman Danny Carter, won "Best Costume" for his "Tooth Fairy" outfit. Gowned in wings and tutu, tiara on his head and cigar jutting from his teeth, he hefted a menacing pair of pliers as he splashed into the lake.

Also raising over $500 were the Rev. Charles Tillapaugh of Wright's Chapel who dressed as "A Stimulus Package," the Rev. Bill Duganne of Bowling Green United Methodist Church, Kathy Johnson who teaches at Beaverdam Elementary School, Superintendent Dr. Greg Killough, Major Scott Moser of the Sheriff's Office, Principal Harold Pellegreen of Lewis and Clark Elementary, Evan Stout of Evan's Heating & Air, and Gary Wintersgill, vice-principal of Massaponnax High School.

The demure female Polar Bears included Diane Abato who is Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney, Tricia Callahan – an intern at The Caroline Progress, Marcia Fisher, Donna Norton of Union Bank & Trust, Mary Seiler, Tamara Feggans, Caitlin Newton, Jeri Roberts, Amber Penney, Taylor Johnson and Katie Carneal.

Robust Polar Bears included John Carneal of Carmel Christian Academy, Tim Connolly, Adam Perry, Commonwealth's Attorney Tony Spencer in a jailbird outfit, Gary Wintersgill, David Martin, Pete Davis, Nicholas Davis, Robert Bingaman, Travis Bingaman, Robert Brooks, Michael Nowark, Trevor Pinkwitz, John Anderson, R.W. Carneal who clutched a sheet of ice as he came out of the water, a duck named Ken Grier, and Shawn Kelley.

Besides the big splash, a highlight of the morning was the dazzling performance of the St. Mary's Hulu Dancers led by Deacon Dave Geary – wearing cocoanut-shell brassieres, swaying and shimmying to raise money to warm the needy.

To view pictures of the 2009 Plunge, click Here.

Polar Bear Plunge
     Ed Simmons Jr. and Carolyn Clarke, Reprinted, The Caroline Progress, February 6, 2008

Surely God smiled Saturday.

Certainly not because the price of heating oil continues its remorseless climb.

But because 38 heroic Caroline residents plunged into chilly Lake Caroline Saturday morning to help the impoverished pay crushing winter heating costs.

$9,888 has so far been raised at the 3rd Annual Polar Bear Plunge organized by Wright's Chapel United Methodist Church. "There is still some money to come in," said Molly Gee, ministry assistant to Pastor Charles Tillapaugh.

In the past two years Wright's Chapel averaged $4,000 before expanding The Plunge this year to include other churches, the schools and the community.

Answering the call from Rehoboth United Methodist Church of Chilesburg, Va. was Pastor Bob Lewandowski along with Robert Harting, Kelsey Hearn and Nicole Cutler. From Bethel and Bowling Green United Methodist Churches were Pastors Justin Williams and Bill Duganne.

St. Mary of the Annunciation Catholic Church also joined in with Trevor Tatham, Bob Brooks and Mike Nowark plunging into the 36 degree water.

From Caroline High School were teachers David Lewis and Steven Scheuermann who were backed by the National Honor Society which raised over $800. Ladysmith Elementary School was also represented by teachers John Casullo and Mark Sparico.

From the Caroline community were the following stalwart and generous-minded folks Bowling Green Mayor David Storke, Sheriff Tony Lippa, Supervisor Maxie Rozell, Larry Franklin, Tim Connolly, Robert Harting, Eoin Connolly, Leah Wolter and Maggie Hayby.

The hardy Plungers from Wright's Chapel are almost too numerous to mention but The Caroline Progress will make room Hollyann Devenport, Gary Wintersgill, Michelle Williams, Susan Hafey, Pastor Charles Tillapaugh, Katie Carneal, R.W. Carneal, Louise Phelix, Steve Carneal, Tamara Feggans, Pete Davis, Kathy Johnson, Colten Senter, Travis Lilley, Jon Davis, Matthew Williams and Michael Williams.

St. Mary's got the idea of getting involved from Trevor Tatham, a student a Caroline Middle School and a parishioner. At his uncle's house a few weeks ago, he was reading in The Caroline Progress about The Plunge and suggested to his uncle Bob Brooks that he would like to plunge.

Bob replied, "Well if you take the plunge, then I will."

Then neighbor Mike Nowark said, "Well, then I’m in too!"

Each year, the plungers put on their wackiest attire and Gold Plungers are given out as trophies. The crazily-costumed Plungers included a ballerina in purple tutu, pigs in wigs, Hula dancers, the Statue of Liberty, "Miss South Carolina," and a frosty Freeze Pop.

To heat things up before the frosty dip, Trevor, Bob and Mike bopped out a wild Tahitian dance wearing traditional coconut bras and short hula skirts.

What zaniness!

And what a great cause! A crowd of about 200 were there at The Lodge at Lake Caroline to cheer the Plungers on.

This is a perfect example of the community and how Caroline comes together for a worthy cause," said Captain Scott Moser of the Sheriff's Office.

It will be interesting to see who else joins in for next year's 4th Annual Polar Bear Plunge.

To view pictures of the 2008 plunge, click Here.