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Published February 02, 2009, 12:00 AM

Polar Pig draws hundreds

This past Saturday, close to 300 spectators watched 18 souls embrace the chilly winds and take a plunge for charity. The third annual Polar Pig “The Big Splash” at Stutsman Harley Davidson was sponsored by the Harley Owners Group and District 8 Abate of North Dakota.

By: By Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun

This past Saturday, close to 300 spectators watched 18 souls embrace the chilly winds and take a plunge for charity.

The third annual Polar Pig “The Big Splash” at Stutsman Harley Davidson was sponsored by the Harley Owners Group and District 8 Abate of North Dakota.

This year’s event raised more than $10,000, nearly $2,000 more than last year, for Jamestown Hospital’s Hospice, according to Don Wegner, HOG chapter president and creator of the Polar Pig.

“The older you get the more people you know that use the hospice,” he said “It helps everybody in some way.”

Wegner said the temperature was nice compared to the first year, when it was minus 20 degrees.

Winds gusted up to 40 mph Saturday afternoon, according to Vern Roller, meteorological technician at the National Weather Service office in Bismarck. He said wind chill temperatures hovered at 20 degrees for the event.

Wegner, dressed as a swash-buckling pirate, announced each jumper after the event started with the bangs and booms of fireworks while saving the last jump for himself.

Some jumpers were shivering in their timbers before taking the plunge like the first jumper, Anna Mathern, who jumped for Anna’s Place in Edgeley and raised $517.

Other jumpers took advantage of the 80 degree water and showed off their cannonball skills, like the third and fourth jumpers Steve Gerszewski and Jessica Meadows, respectively, who raised $526.

It’s up to each jumper to raise their own donations, Wegner said. All the money goes to the hospice.

Spencer Johnson and his wife, Amee, a pair of first-year jumpers who dressed up as Raggedy Ann and Andy, didn’t mind the winds and just wanted to help the hospice.

“The hospice is a very important part of our community for people that are terminally ill,” he said. “We need to make their quality of life as good as we can make it till the end.”

Jumpers and spectators weren’t left completely in the cold as a chili cook off was held inside.

Sixteen people cooked chili and entered their recipe in the cook off, said George Quigley representative of District 8 Abate, who was serving the chili. For $5, plunge watchers got sample trays and were able to try each entry then vote on their favorites.

“Some people like it hot with peppers,” Quigley said. “Everybody has got a different taste.”

Pam Young ended up with the first place plaque for most popular chili.

“Anything we can do to raise money for the local charities is great,” Quigley said.

Before Wegner took the final jump, Jan Barnes, director of the Jamestown Hospital Foundation. was trying to raise $1,700 to reach the final goal of $10,000. Within a matter of minutes people from the crowd matched donations and the goal was reached. That meant Al Pergande, general manager of Stutsman Harley Davidson, had to take a plunge.

After a brief search, Pergande was found and prepared to jump. He thanked people for coming out to support the event and the Jamestown Hospital’s Hospice before jumping in with all of his clothes on.

Awards were also given out. Three girls from Unison Bank won best cannonball, Best Costume went to Tim Moch from the Jamestown Hospital and Best Sprit went to Neighborhood Grocery.

“I’d rather be a judge watching them splash,” said Adam McMahon, a first-year judge. “I don’t want pneumonia.”

Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by e-mail at brodgers@jamestownsun.com

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