Chanhassen icy dive off; Excelsior event heats up

  • Article by: TOM MEERSMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 30, 2011 - 8:09 PM

Chanhassen event is canceled, but warmth could lure more than 1,000 to take plunge in Lake Minnetonka.

Warm weather has put the kibosh on a New Year's Day ice dive in Chanhassen, but it's having the opposite effect in Excelsior, where organizers hope to attract record numbers of the stout-hearted.

The Chanhassen Lions Club canceled its first-ever Penguin Dip at Lake Ann because thin ice made the event too risky, organizers said.

As with most polar plunges, it was to feature participants in bathing suits jumping into frigid waters through a hole cut in the ice, with entry fees and money pledges going toward a variety of causes.

The Chanhassen event was scheduled to take place on the ice near Lake Ann Beach, with the local fire department offering assistance.

Tom Workman, a Carver County commissioner and former Lions president who helped organize the affair, said that all who registered will get a full refund.

A much larger and more established ice jump on Lake Minnetonka -- now in its 22nd year -- will go on as scheduled.

That event, sponsored by ALARC, a nonprofit marathon running club, drew more than 750 ice jumpers last year.

Organizer Bill Wenmark said the warm weather has greatly increased interest and pre-registration numbers, which were running ahead of 2008 when 975 people took the polar plunge.

"The ice is beautiful, it's just gorgeous, almost like Waterford crystal because there's no snow cover, and 8 to 10 inches thick," Wenmark said.

Volunteers with chainsaws were putting the final touches on the dive area Friday afternoon.

Along with several charities funded in previous years, Wenmark said the Semper Fi Fund has been added this year as a major beneficiary. It provides immediate financial help for injured and critically ill members of the U.S. military and their families.

Sunday's dive will begin at 8:30 a.m. at the BayView Event Center in Excelsior.

Tom Meersman • 612-673-7388

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