Selwyn PolarFest returns Feb. 3 to 5 with in-person polar plunge

Selwyn Township’s winter family festival, PolarFest, is returning Feb. 3 to 5, with lots of activities for the young and young at heart, including the popular BEL Rotary Club polar plunge, the first live in-person one since the pandemic began.

The PolarFest events, which will be held at different sites in the township, will begin with a bang with an opening ceremony featuring a fireworks display Feb. 3 starting at 6:30 p.m. lakeside at the Chemong Lodge in Bridgenorth.

There will also be a snowman building challenge, candlelight skate, ice carvings, public skating, youth shinny, lake curling and a trail night hike at the Marshland Centre.

Participants in the polar plunge are invited to get “freezin’ for a reason” in the 43rd annual event Feb. 5 at 2 p.m. at Rotary Park in Ennismore, on Chemong Lake near the James A. Gifford Causeway.

This year’s theme is “Be a rock star to the charity of your choice,” with a goal of raising $30,000 for the charitable work of the Bridgenorth-Ennismore-Lakefield Rotary Club and local charities.

Entrants in the plunge are asked to get donations from family and friends for a charity they have chosen. Proceeds are then split 50/50 between the Rotary Club and the charity.

The club was able to hold the event in February 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, said Mike Richardson, chair of community services at BEL Rotary.

Then, for the past two years, the polar plunge has been a virtual event, with participants plunging at home and sharing videos, which was moderately successful, Richardson said.

It feels great to be back in person, he said.

“We’re very excited about it because we’re getting a lot of positive feedback from a lot of people who had done it 10, 15, 20 years consecutively and hadn’t missed it prior to COVID,” Richardson said.

Participants can jump as part of a team or as individuals.

Since March 2020, Bridgenorth-Ennismore-Lakefield Rotary Club has purchased personal protective equipment for front-line workers, provided meals to the staff and residents of the YES Shelter for Youth and Families, given treats to residents and workers in long-term care facilities, supported local food banks, provided Thanksgiving dinners to community members and provided the “gift of Christmas” to local families through its Adopt a Family Program.

Sign up for the plunge online at bit.ly/3YYQlwn

Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.

Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner