New Year's Day plunge at Lake Lure

147 plungers brave the rain, 35 degree lake temperature and Freeze for a Reason
Jan. 02, 2013 @ 09:05 AM

Nearly 150 folks — bikini-clad women, shirtless men; costumed young people; folks in pajamas and fire suits and other attire — took the annual Polar Plunge into Lake Lure at 12 p.m. New Year's Day.

A steady drizzle of rain didn't keep the plunger or spectators from participating in the event, but less than one minute after the plunge, the lake was nearly empty. 

"That was fast," said one plunger, of the cold water.

Promoter Ken Potter believes the fifth annual Polar Plunge — Freezing' for a Reason — may win the prize for the biggest attendance ever.

Ken and Melanie Potter, Kat Canat and other Lake Lure residents coordinated the event this year, helping the Tourism Development Authority, keep the poplar event alive.

"We want this to keep on," said Potter. "We can't let it die."

TDA didn't sponsor the event this year, although it has been a signature event in the past.

Canat said the "die-hard" promoters and plungers were back and they were overwhelmed at the turn-out.

"We're almost out," Canat said looking at a few toboggans remaining on the registration table.

"We just bought 100," she said, not expecting the large crowd, but thankful. "We're so excited."

Tobogans were given to the first 100 plungers who donated $15 to the event.

For many who jumped into the 35 degree Lake Lure, it was a first experience, but will not be a last.

"It was wonderful. Tons of fun. And we'll be back," said a shivering Kathy Armatas and Andrew Armatas of West Palm Beach, Fla., who enjoyed their first plunge.

Lee Emerson, Tesha Banand and Jaden Thompson, also of Florida, came to plunge. They are buying a house in Lake Lure this year and are already settling in and participating in the community events.

Sarah Glover of Fletcher said she telephoned her friends, Heather Riddle and Lisa Whitaker-Wray early Tuesday morning and said, "It's time. Let' go."

None of the other moms had planned to experience the New Year's Day plunge, until "Sarah made us," said Heather. Their children came too, but didn't plunge. "This is mom's day." 

Joanna O'Hara sporting a hat with "England" written across the front, was visiting family in Lake Lure. She and sister-in-law, Mary Fretwell of Lake Lure were among plungers.

Clad in his full fireman's uniform, Dwayne Hooks, represented the Lake Lure Fire Department while other rescue members stood by in case someone needed help getting out of the lake.

A number of plungers arrived from Florida, Charlotte, Fletcher; and some came from Ecuador and Panama City.

Folks such as Laura Hopper, an East Rutherford High School coach; and student athlete, Tripp Hamrick, read about the plunge in The Daily Courier, and decided it would be a fun thing to do on New Year's Day.

Hopper arrived in a Spider Woman suit and Hamrick came as Super Man.They also plan to return.

Elvis — Matt Hamley — arrived from upstate New York and was dressed in a thin white Elvis suit and of course, the shirt was open at the chest, as he stood shivering trying to step out of the water. 

The Polar Plunge helps to raise money for nonprofit groups in the Hickory Nut Gorge and Tuesday's event raised money for all fire departments in the area.

Even without a donation, anyone who wanted to get cold and wet, were invited to jump in. 

Hot chocolate and cookies were compliments of the 1927 Lake Lure Inn and Spa.

And just across the beach, chef Tim Turner was cooking a New Year's Day Meal — Hopping' John with Black Eye peas, pork and collard greens —hoping those freezing for a reason, could warm up in his restaurant.

Turner was donating 15 percent of his New Year's Day sales to the Hickory Nut Gorge Outreach Ministry.