Hundreds Take Icy ‘Polar Bear Plunge’ Into Lake Erie

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BAY VILLAGE, Ohio -- It's a New Year's Day tradition in Northeast Ohio--hundreds of people took a quick dip in Lake Erie as part of the "Polar Bear Plunge".

They are either fearless or just plain crazy as hundreds of human polar bears plunged their way into the freezing cold lake, and they didn't stay in long.

"It's cold, probably the common answer, right? Cold." said Paul Thrasher of Sheffield Village.

Some of the "Polar Bear Plungers" jumped into the icy cold Lake at Huntington Beach in Bay Village to raise money for the Rescuing the Perishing food truck that has been feeding and helping the homeless in Cleveland.

"We've got a 16-foot box truck and we go out every Tuesday evening all year long to provide a hot meal to anyone that shows up," said Loparo of the Christ the King Church in North Olmsted

While some people dove into the frigid lake for a good cause, others did it to promote fitness and a healthier lifestyle.

"The club promotes fitness, so we are always trying to raise awareness of folks to take control of their lives with a healthy life," said Brandon Henneman of the Cleveland Triathlon Club

For the 10th year, a couple hundred members of the Cleveland Triathlon Club were at Huntington Beach taking the New Year’s Day dip into Lake Erie. 

"It was awesome but it was cold. I can't feel my toes. That was awesome. That was amazing," said Erin Thrower of Cuyahoga Falls.

After Jeff Wolfert took the Polar Bear Plunge, he took another plunge when he asked his girlfriend to marry him and she said yes.

"Awesome. I ran in there. I knew what I was gonna do. I love this girl and I came out and now we are engaged. new year ever!" said Jeff Wolfert of Cleveland.

Organizers say each year the New Year’s Day event continues to grow as more and more people want to take part in the Polar Bear Plunge.