It’s called the Ice Out Plunge, but even if the ice hasn’t receded from Maranacook Lake by April 11, people in Winthrop will be getting wet, and cold, for a good cause.

The second annual plunge is set to begin at noon that day on at the town beach across from American Legion Alfred W. Maxwell Jr. Post 40 at 117 Bowdoin St.

The plunge was organized as a fundraiser for the Maine Law Enforcement Torch Run, which supports Special Olympics Maine. Special Olympics provides athletic competition for men, women and children who are intellectually challenged.

“Every penny they raise goes directly to benefit Special Olympics Maine athletes,” said Lisa Bird, who coordinates the torch run for Special Olympics Maine.

The ice out theme corresponds to the time of year when ice finally clears from the lake, though last year’s inaugural plunge was marked by ice that was three feet thick. That prompted game wardens, with the help of an excavator, to cut a large hole in the ice to allow access to the near-freezing water below.

“We had to bring in heavy equipment last year,” Bird said.

This year’s plunge is a week later than last year to accommodate Easter weekend.

“The way the weather has been that could be to our advantage,” Bird said.

About 600 law enforcement members around the state raise funds each year for Special Olympics Maine, Bird said. Those men and women have devised a number of ways to raise that money, from carrying bags of groceries to waiting tables for tips.

“They really come up with great ideas to raise money,” Bird said.

Last year police in Winthrop came up with the Ice Out Plunge. Bird and Charle Clark of the Winthrop Police hoped to raise $10,000. The plunge instead drew a crowd of more of than 60 participants — a couple of hundred more lined the shore to watch — and raised $18,000.

“It was a complete shock to us how well it went last year,” Bird said.

She said organizers hope to raise $20,000 this year.

“This year the excitement around it is so much bigger than last year,” she said. “We really feel like we’re definitely going to be over what we did last year.”

Though connected to the law enforcement torch run program, everyone 8 and older is invited to participate in the plunge. The only requirement is that each person must raise a minimum of $100. Individuals and teams are invited to register.

Every participant will receive a long-sleeved commemorative T-shirt, but there are incentives for those who raise the most money.

“I think a lot of members of law enforcement are competitive,” Bird said. “They were putting out challenges to each other. We’ve got a lot of that going on again this year.”

Bird said most polar plunges are in southern Maine in January. The timing and location make it difficult for many people in the central part of the state to take part.

“People see it and say, ‘I’d love to do that,'” Bird said. “Having one in April gives them a chance to make up for that.”

Registration for the plunge will be held from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 11, at the American Legion post. The Legion also will host a post-plunge party, complete with a free buffet and cash bar, immediately after the noon plunge.

For more information, or to download a registration packet, visit online at www.somaine.org or call Lisa Bird at Special Olympics Maine at 879-0489 or email her at [email protected] You also may contact Charle Clark at the Winthrop Police Department at 377-7227.

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @CraigCrosby4


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