Hardy souls tested the winter waters of Little Pine Lake Feb. 6, 69 of them in all, and the verdict was unanimous: brrrrrrrrrrr.
Also unanimous was the opinion that the first "Freezin' for a Reason" was great fun and a great fundraiser for the Kinship youth mentoring program.
Some jumped into the icy water alone, others as teams. But all raised money for Kinship by collecting pledges. In total, the fundraiser generated more than $32,000-which included a $15,000 match from Bremer Bank.
Get-ups of all descriptions were worn by the jumpers, who also competed in a "Freezin for a Reason" costume contest. There were nine teams entered.
Each jumper also had his or her own "style" as they approached the open water, cut into Little Pine Lake-about 50 yards off shore from Zorbaz, which served as host for the event.
Boisterous belly flops; nervous tip-toe walks to the edge of the ice; confident jaunts into the pool-everybody approached the 32 degree water differently.
For Vince Bachmann, it was a no-holds-barred cannonball into the water.
Cartwheeling from the ice into the water was bicycle club member Mark Olson.
Doing a back-flop into the water was Eric Doll.
Walking casually into the water was Rick Breitenfeldt. Event announcer Clyde "Bud" Stephens, quickly accused Breitenfeldt of a "wimpy jump."
"Hey-he didn't even get his hair wet," said Bud Stephens as Breitenfeldt strolled nonchalantly from the brink of the ice, into the water, and out on the other side, about 20 feet away.
Creating a big splash was Gene Jahnke, one of the earliest jumpers-along with his boss Dean Simpson of Dean's Country Market and Kenny Nelson of KLN Enterprises.
A big, heavy-set fellow, who also served as co-announcer, Jahnke said, "When I jumped, I was afraid all the water of Little Pine would end up in Big Pine!"
For most of the jumpers, taking a dip in February was a completely new experience. But not for all.
"We water skied on December 6," said Dennis Happel, recalling an unusually warm fall about 25 years ago that kept half of the waters of Little McDonald Lake open. City Attorney Happel, and city EDA Director Chuck Johnson were the two skiers that year.
Asked about the sensation of jumping into a frozen lake, Perham Police Chief Brian Nelson conjured up a memory from his youth.
"Back in high school, I fell through the ice when I was checking a trap line," recalled Nelson. "Well, today felt just about the way I remember it from back then."
Pizza was served all afternoon to the jumpers, and to donors who paid $20 for a VIP ticket at Zorbaz. Proceeds were donated to Kinship. A crowd of more than 300 was on hand for the jumps and the party at Zorbaz, which included drawings for door prizes and awards announcements. Zorbaz served more than 100 pizzas in just a couple hours-all of which were donated.
The finale of the jumping spectacle was when Kinship director Jill Shipman and her husband Hayden jumped together. Wearing Roman togas, the Shipmans hopped into the pool of icy water--definitely not a Roman-Mediterranean experience.
"I'm still in awe with the whole event, the crowd," said Jill Shipman on Monday, after warming up over the weekend. "People are already talking about next year."
A last-minute addition to the list was a call for Miss Perham Jenna Strege to jump. A goal of $1,000 was set, and the audience was urged to donate to persuade Strege to jump. The hat was passed around the ice, and in Zorbaz, and an additional $800 was raised. With eyes all on Miss Perham, she took the plunge.
Wrapping herself in towels afterwards, her assessment of the chilling assault on her senses?