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Published January 16, 2009, 12:00 AM

Take the Polar Plunge, help feed kids

Like so many people, Pat Petermann is hoping for a major swing in temperatures.

By: Pippi Mayfield, DL-Online

Like so many people, Pat Petermann is hoping for a major swing in temperatures.

About 25 degrees above zero with no wind would be ideal, the Boys and Girls Club of Detroit Lakes executive director said.

Although some people would like those weather conditions pronto, Petermann is hoping for them in mid-February. Valentines Day to be exact.

That’s because the club’s 13th annual Polar Plunge is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 14, at 1 p.m. on Little Detroit Lake in front of Lakeside Tavern. Registration begins at 11 a.m.

This year, to keep things exciting, and warm, the Polar Plunge organizers have come up with a solution.

A new twist

“We’re adding a new twist to the event,” Petermann said.

Party Under the Tent is for those not brave — or foolhardy enough — to stand out in the cold on the lake. For a $20 ticket, people can watch a live feed of the jump from a heated tent on the patio of Lakeside. Now that’s more like it.

Along with the warmth comes another warming idea — the chance to win a 42-inch plasma Panasonic television, a Shooting Star Casino and spa getaway or a portable fish house.

“The idea was to draw more of a crowd or maybe a different crowd,” Petermann said of the Party Under the Tent idea. That different crowd being those who don’t have to be down on the ice, but would like to watch anyway.

ProSystems is donating the use of the 50-inch television for viewing.

A limited number of tickets are being sold for the Party Under the Tent. They are available at the club or from James Vogt, Michele Baker, Brenda Houts or Michael Williams.

Getting ready to jump

This year’s overall fundraising goal for the event is $40,000; last year it raised $30,000. The money represents 20 percent of the club’s 2009 budget.

“I truly believe if people got a challenge going, that goal is obtainable,” he said.

As in years past, there is a BTD challenge, matching up to $10,000 other businesses have raised.

“We couldn’t have wished for anything better,” he said of the challenge and support.

Each jumper will receive a $25 gift certificate to Lakeside (not redeemable that day) and a red Polar Plunge T-shirt in honor of Valentines Day.

There will also be cash prizes. For every $250 raised, jumpers will have their name in a drawing to receive $1,000. There are also $100, $50 and $25 prizes for group and individual best costumes.

Last year there were 87 jumpers, but Petermann said he’s sure had the plunge happened on the originally planned weekend, they would have reached their goal of 100 jumpers. Last year the plunge was delayed one week after temperatures and winds got too frigid.

“Our goal is always 100,” he said.

Hot tubs will once again be available to jumpers before the big plunge.

“It’s just a fun event,” he said.

Ever increasing numbers

“The plunge has to be a success to continue our mission at the club,” he said.

Projected expenses for the club in 2009 are $360,000-$380,000. But revenue falls short of those figures.

“I’m confident, though — the community has never let us down since I’ve been here,” he said.

In November and December, the club averaged 130 kids per day, and fed them 50-60 nights. January numbers, he said, are average or above as well.

“It’s very much a challenge in ’09. But that’s not new to anybody.”

To help with costs, staff has had to cut back on hours and supplies are put off a week or so at a time, the cuts have not affected the program or the kids who attend the club.

The club has modified meals to have a “heavy snack or lunch” of a sandwich, fruit and milk Tuesday-Thursday evenings, while Monday and Friday evenings they still get the larger, hot meals.

“Kids are still getting something to eat, which is our goal, but not as heavy as last year,” he said. In 2008, the club served 15,000 meals.

“That’s one of the perks of this program,” he said of knowing kids are getting a good meal.