Ogden Dunes puts a new twist on polar plunge tradition

OGDEN DUNES — Around 100 people gathered along the shores of Lake Michigan in Odgen Dunes Sunday for the 25th annual Polar Plunge, but this year, the festivities looked a little different.

Pat Wadley, left, and Lacey Swick, right, run through the water during the annual Polar Plunge in Ogden Dunes Sunday.

William Skipworth, The Times

Because of large amounts of shelf ice lining the shore, the Ogden Dunes Fire Department advised people to stay out of the water and avoid potentially getting stuck. Instead the fire department brought a fire hose and sprayed over the beach, allowing polar plungers to run through the water.

“It was awesome,” Val Deckard said after running through the water. “I’m so glad the fire department set something up for us to do.”

Escaping the heat at the Indiana Dunes State Park

Deckard, who is from Bloomington and is visiting family in Northwest Indiana this week, said it was cold, but not as cold as the lake.

“We were kind of disappointed we didn’t get to go in the water, but we understand why for safety issues,” another plunger, Pat Wadley, said. “But it was still fun to do.”

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The event was organized by Elsie Anderson and several of her family members. Anderson called the annual tradition “epic.”


A fire hose shoots water out onto the beach in Ogden Dunes Sunday during the annual Polar Plunge.

William Skipworth, The Times

“It’s definitely epic,” Anderson said. “We just kind of like it.”

Anderson explained that she and her brother, Wade Anderson, decided to create the event 25 years ago and have been doing it on New Year’s Day ever since. She said the turnout has always been great.

“People go nuts for this stuff,” Anderson said. “It’s fun!”

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