New Year's polar bears swim for charity
Swans might be hard to come by at this time of year in Lake Country, but that's not to say we couldn't come up with our own twist on "seven swans a'swimming" for our "12 Days of Christmas" series.
Panfish and largemouth bass are easy to catch in Lower Nemahbin Lake. If you're lucky, you could catch a northern pike.
And, if the conditions are just right, you could catch a polar bear.
That's because the annual polar bear plunge is already under way at Stolley's Hogg Alley, Ole's Tap and (new this year) Sports Channel.
It's slated to start at 10 a.m. Jan. 1, and the jump is planned for 2 p.m., but funds are already being raised.
It's a tradition going back as many as 30 years, according to many patrons.
That could well be a big fish tale, but tradition is tradition.
Therefore, every year, men and women from all walks of life gather on Lower Nemahbin Lake to take a dive into the frigid winter water to celebrate the new year and raise money for a good cause.
Registration is $25, and both plungers and pledges can fill the forms out at the bars ahead of time or on the same day.
You can raise more, of course, and now is actually a good time to start getting donations and pledges if you plan to jump. You'll get a T-shirt this year, too.
If you don't think you've got seafaring legs, you can still stop by and show your support. Last year the effort raised about $5,000 for Harley-Davidson's Ride for a Cure.
This year, all proceeds go to Children's Hospital of Wisconsin.
Polar bear supporters are sure to stay warm indoors or in heated tents where they're welcome to great food and drinks (beer for the adults, hot cocoa for the kids). Live music is in the works, and the Big Wheel Band has already been booked at Sports Channel.
Jeff Stoll, owner of Stolley's Hogg Alley and veteran host, plans to make his homemade chili. The last time he made it, two years ago, it pocketed another $300 for charity.
It must be pretty good, especially on a cold day.
There will also be raffles on hand for items donated by local businesses. If you're interested in putting together prizes, promotional items or gift certificates for donations, drop them off at Sports Channel between 10 a.m. and bar close any day of the week.
"Other people will pledge a certain amount of money to have you plunge into the open water instead. Open. Freezing. Cold. Water," said Sports Channel manager Theresa Krahn.
Krahn said she'll consider jumping if people "can cough up enough money" for a good cause.
Todd Heppe, Sports Channel owner, said "oh boy" and added that he would "consider it."
He's aiming for $5,000, so if last year's amount is exceeded, he'll likely jump.
And if he jumps, this reporter might jump, too.
That's right, folks. If Lake Country can dig deep and beat last year's $5,000, then this swan is a' swimming.
"So many of things done here are done every year and it's all a group effort … If you need anything, an extra hand or a heated tent, everyone is so nice and will ask you how you're doing … It's kind of like a neighborhood thing, a community effort," said Krahn.
To donate, make a pledge for somebody else or become a polar bear, go to:
Stolley's Hogg Alley
2008 Venice Beach Road Oconomowoc, WI 53066
34324 Delafield Road, Oconomowoc, WI 53066
Sports Channel Bar
34422 Delafield Road, Oconomowoc, WI 53066
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