New Year’s Day marked the return of the Grand Valley Lions Club polar bear dip into the freezing Grand River.
And almost 50 people turned out to take the plunge, weather the cold shock to the body, and support the Grand Valley Food Bank.
Randy McClelland, the club’s secretary, said 48 people dipped into the river as spectators watched and as many as 15 Lions help out.
The club raised $5,337.50 for the food bank. Besides the money, dippers and spectators donated more than 300 pounds of food items to the bank.
“Usually, it’s hard to get $1,000,” he said. “We had a couple who really went out and tried to get pledges. They stirred the community up and one young lady got $2,520 in pledges. That’s a great job.
“It was an excellent day.”
This was the annual dip’s first year after a pandemic-induced hiatus. McClelland said there was some reservations about the river ice early in the day.
“But it went out about an hour or two hours before the dip,” he said. “Everything was good. The water was a little high, but we managed well.”
While the number of participants varies each outing, the club drew more people this year than usual.
“Usually, we average in the mid-30s,” he said.
McClelland praised the efforts of club members, spectators, and those who weathered the bone-chilling-jaw-tightening water.
“You’re cold down there, standing around watching the dippers. It makes you feel good when you sit down and realize what you did,” he said.
James Matthews, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Citizen