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Annual Ogdensburg polar bear dip was a hit

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Cold weather, warm hearts, hot fun.

The annual Ogdensburg River Shiver Polar Plunge on Saturday was a success.

The swim in the bracing waters of the St. Lawrence River for the benefit of the Greater Ogdensburg Chamber of Commerce and the Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad raise more than $7,700 in pledges committed to 31 participants.

“A new record,” chamber Executive Director Sandra M. Porter said.

Records were set in other areas, too.

“This year we had almost twice as many jumpers and spectators as last year,” Mrs. Porter said. “Last year it was very warm with lots of open water. This year the conditions were perfect, sunny and cold.”

The top pledge generator for the second consecutive year was 14-year-old Jack Downing. He raised $1,790 in pledges and won a cash prize of $775 for his efforts.

Second place in pledge-generating was 9-year-old Paige Merz, who raised a total of $ 1,143 in commitments.

“If you look at the amount of money brought in by these two kids it’s around $3,000,” Mrs. Porter said. “That’s phenomenal. Jack has been doing this for about four years and Paige, this is her second year. I truly believe much of the success of this year’s plunge goes to those two for getting the entire community involved in either sponsoring them or coming to watch the event. They also inspired some other kids to take the plunge. They each handled the process of getting pledges very professionally by starting early and keeping at it until the day of the event. I think we have two future leaders here.”

The costume contest was won by Steve Conger, who dressed as Mimi Morales from “Saturday Night Live.”

Second place in the costume contest was won by Laurie Sargent and Christine Thrasher, who dressed as “Thing One” and “Thing Two.”

The 50/50 giveaway of $150 was won by Michael and Ellen Seidman who donated the money back to the event.

“Having the 5K Polar Bear Walk in the morning and the plunge in the afternoon is a great way to kick off the River Shiver,” Mrs. Porter said. “Many of the people who ran in the morning came back and jumped in the afternoon.”

The Chamber uses its share of the proceeds to help pay for the events that it puts on during the year. Proceeds also benefited the Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad, which uses the money to buy emergency and medical equipment.

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