Jim 'Big Tiger' Remsik

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Frozen Gems

2009 Feb 21 – Madison, WI

We came, we saw, we borrowed footwear, and we plunged!

Post Plunge Group Photo

Desi, Lark, and myself all dove into a frozen-over lake in Wisconsin, in February.

Lark and I had two motives for participating in the 2009 Polar Plunge for Special Olympics. One reason for plunging was to raise money for charity and we succeeded in raising over $1500 for nearly 10,000 athletes with cognitive disabilities. The secondary motivation was to share our hometown of Madison, WI with our friends and co-workers.

The Plunge

The original plungers were scheduled to be Lark, Tiger, and Mark Smith. Desi and Amber were slated to come visit and enjoy Madison while joining Jen in the cheerleading section on the day of the plunge. Mark unfortunately had a scheduling conflict and couldn’t make it. We completely understand but had to poke a little fun. Thus Mark Jr the chicken plunger was born. As it turns out Mark Jr was great fun to have around and will likely become a permanent resident in the Hashrocket offices.

Mark Jr

After arriving at the plunge location which was packed we changed clothes and borrowed footwear which is required to plunge. There was a solid wind blowing off the lake and ripping through what little clothing we were wearing. Our group is called and we made our way down to the opening in the ice. Desi said at this point she had definitely “checked out” and was basically just following commands. We were introduced as being from Florida and the countdown began “3.. 2.. splash”.

The feeling is hard to describe. The only thought in your head is “this is bad, I need to get out”. Desi is out first, Lark waited patiently for me to get on the stairs and followed quickly behind. To the hot tubs! Which turned out to be pretty luke warm and less than satisfying but, that was probably by design. Not too long after we got in we were being prodded out so the next group could get in the tubs. The changing tents are dark, lit only by the sunlight sneaking in around the edges. Warm enough and humid from the combination of wet clothes and snow. People getting ready to plunge are gingerly navigating the hurried mass of half dressed and completely naked individuals. Those who have already plunged are focused and less polite about getting to the location where they left dry clothes. Lark and I discussed how even then just a few minutes after the plunge we couldn’t remember the extreme feelings we had while in the water.

We all experienced a bit of a high. A well mixed cocktail of fear, excitement, and relief. As we walked out of the changing tents unsurprisingly the outdoor temperature felt warmer. Chris and Tim, former co-workers of Lark and I, as well as Jen who did not jump were anxious to get someplace warmer. For the three of us who jumped we were less worried about the weather and mostly just wanter to shower off the lake matter that clung to us.

Polar Plunge Photos by Krueger Images

Visiting Madison

We hit some of the highlights of Madison on our weekend trip. Friday lunch was a group outing to Lazy Jane’s Cafe followed by a happy hour at Genna’s Lounge that migrated to the Tornado Room. Their dining room filled up quick and our thirst for steak was filled at Johnny Delmonico’s. An after dinner shot of Patron Silver Chilled, did I mention Desi was here?, or three at the Opus Lounge wrapped up the night.

Saturday Morning, Plunge Day, started off properly with a visit to Mickie’s Dairy Bar. After breakfast we made our way over to partake in a little frosty bath. After showering and recouping we met friends and headed over to The Plaza Tavern for Plaza burgers, drinks and a few games of pool. As Jen and I met some family obligations the rest of the crew split between Magnus and the gastronomic landmark L’Etoile.

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