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Tue, June 18

Taking the plunge: Polar Bear Splash draws large pool of participants

Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier<br>Participants in the 9th annual Polar Bear Splash leap into the Mountain Valley Splash pool Saturday in Prescott Valley. The water was 41 degrees Fahrenheit.

Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier<br>Participants in the 9th annual Polar Bear Splash leap into the Mountain Valley Splash pool Saturday in Prescott Valley. The water was 41 degrees Fahrenheit.

PRESCOTT VALLEY - Community members of all ages braved the chilly weather on Saturday to take part in the ninth annual Polar Bear Splash at Mountain Valley Splash.

The event kicked off at 9 a.m. with a complimentary pancake breakfast courtesy of the Backburner Grill. The day's festivities included an ice-cream-eating contest, duck slide, carnival games, and a hairy ice princess competition, which entailed shirtless men showing off their chest and belly hair.

Jean Lupa from KPPV, The Mix 106, helped choose the winner of this year's hairy ice princess. "I have been the judge of the hairy ice princess contest for nine years," Lupa said. "I actually get to ask men to show me their chest. It's a lot of fun.

"Usually we are freezing our 'you know whats' off, but today it's gorgeous," Lupa added.

Snagging the tiara and sash to claim the Ice Princess title for 2014 was 19-year-old Jason Haight. In addition to his princess bling, Haight won a skill saw donated by Ace Hardware.

"I didn't want to do it; it was force," Haight said laughing. His girlfriend Julia Wheatley had talked him into participating in the contest - but Haight turned the tables and made her jump in the pool with him.

For the main event, nearly 20 polar bears in the making lined up around the pool to jump into the 41-degree water for a chance to win a bevy of different prizes such from free bowling games to toothbrushes.

"I wanted to have a new experience. This is my first time coming and I like it a lot," newbie polar bear plunger Ashley Mills said. "I'm just going to go for it and jump in."

Polar bear plunges or swims are celebrated around the world, including Canada, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. The events have also become popular across the nation from Seattle, Wash., to Coney Island, N.Y. Many of the events help raise money for local charities and service clubs.

Lupa says polar bear plunges are a great way to bring the community together.

"Each year we have gotten more and more people to jump in," Lupa said. "We started out with maybe five or six, and last year we got up to 26. It's amazing."

Follow Tamara Sone on Twitter @PDCtsone.

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