There are many ways to ring in the New Year and, thanks to some free local events, Huntsville had plenty of options for family-friendly fun. At Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area, revellers got the party started with a bang at the annual fireworks display above the Flying Dutchman. At the Canada Summit Centre, a free skate hosted by the Town of Huntsville brought locals, cottagers and visitors alike out to enjoy some on-ice fun. And this morning, more than three dozen brave souls leapt or cannon-balled into the frigid waters of Peninsula Lake for the eighth annual Huntsville Polar Bear Dip
Markus Latzel is the man behind the polar bear dip. He’d done one in Toronto organized by friends and decided that Huntsville needed one, too. The inaugural dip happened eight years ago at the Town Dock and has been hosted by Hidden Valley Resort ever since, weather dependent. (Yes, it can be too cold for a polar bear dip.) Dippers collect pledges for a local charity each year.
Laura Veenstra was a first-time participant. She’s always wanted to do a polar bear dip and was psyched up for it last year but the event was cancelled due to the cold. As a bonus to the year-long wait for the next one, she found out that this year’s beneficiary of the event is Community Living Huntsville, her employer.
Veenstra’s coworker, Suzanne Willett, said with a laugh, “I’m doing it for Community Living Huntsville, that’s the only reason. I’ve been in hot water before but never cold like this.”
Nolan Turner and his uncle Darren McCallen were jumping for the first time, too. Turner is Willett’s neighbour and when he heard about the dip, he wanted to give it a try. McCallen found out about it the night before the dip and said he’d join Turner for support.
Abdullah Artan said that for him, it was a new challenge and a way to get out of his comfort zone. It was his first time as a dipper, as well, although he’s been in the lake this time of year for work, albeit in a wetsuit. “It was cold, minus 25 or minus 30. If I did that, I should be able to do this no problem,” he said, pre-dip.
Hidden Valley Resort general manager Scott Doughty was the first in the water.
He said that the resort is happy to continue hosting the event. “We love being a part of the community and supporting the community. And this year the money is being donated to Community Living Huntsville, which is a great part of our community to support.”
As for why he chose to jump in the cold lake, Doughty said, “It wakes you up. The sun is shining, it’s a beautiful day. So, why not jump into freezing cold water for a great cause?”
If you’d like to help the Huntsville Polar Bear Dip support Community Living Huntsville, you can make a donation on the Huntsville Polar Bear Dip fundraising page here until January 31, 2019. As of publication time, almost $1,500 had been raised online with some people also making donations at the event.
Scroll down to see more photos of brave dippers.
New Year’s Eve fireworks at Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area
New Year’s Eve free skate at the Don Lough Arena, hosted by the Town of Huntsville
Huntsville Polar Bear Dip
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