Roy Giehtbrock participates "for the kids" in the 2013 Chatfield Chill Fest Polar Plunge to benefit St. Jude's Research Hospital.  FILE PHOTO
Roy Giehtbrock participates "for the kids" in the 2013 Chatfield Chill Fest Polar Plunge to benefit St. Jude's Research Hospital. FILE PHOTO
Support your plunger.

It's the cool thing to do.

"If folks do not have a plunger to support, free-will donations will be accepted at the event," said Dean Irish, a Chatfield Fire Department Chill Fest Polar Plunge organizer.

Even if one does not know someone crazy enough to jump into Mill Creek in January or doesn't want to do it themselves, there are options available to them in helping raise funds for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.

Irish explained that in years past the plunge has simply been a part of Chill Fest, Chatfield's January cabin fever celebration. The fire department has chosen to continue it as a fundraiser for St. Jude's in order to make it a worthwhile venture into the frigid muck and to attract people who are just plain polar about plunging.

"It's something we've just done year after year. This is our second year doing it for St. Jude's," Irish continued. "Some folks just feel compelled to do it and if we can get people to donate money for someone to jump in the creek, why not?"

Last year a total of 15 teams and 25 jumpers participated in the polar plunge, braving the icy waters and raising over $2,500.

"Our goal is to increase that - we're hoping for donations," Irish said. "We really need participants and folks who'll go out and get donations."

Plungers can choose to go bravely into the water clad in swimsuits or in costume, but most experienced plungers recommend swimsuits over costumes, as the more one wears, the more there is to wear while attempting to slog out of the creek.

Either way, victory belongs to those who go in and come out goose-bumpy and pink.

Irish noted, "The Chatfield Fire Department will have two firefighters in the water for any assistance plungers may need in the water and the Chatfield EMS will also be on site for medical assistance if needed."

Local and area businesses, as well as the Minnesota National Guard, will provide warm-up goods and assistance during and after the Polar Plunge.

"Thatcher Pools and Spas will again provide two hot tubs to warm up after a cold dip, Greenway Co-op will be donating the fuel to run the generator which powers the hot tubs, Old Tyme Café & Catering will provide the fixings for chili dogs to be served at the plunge for free-will donations, and Minnesota Army National Guard will provide tents to get out of the weather, warm up and enjoy a chili dog," he added.

Irish invited the public to spectate from the bridge or banks if they wish to support their plungers, or if they simply want to make a donation to St. Jude's and watch some really crazy mid-winter swimmers.

Chatfield's Chill Fest Polar Plunge is once again happening beneath the Mill Creek Bridge on Third Street on Saturday, Jan. 25. Registration, pledge and waiver forms are available at Dave's Barber Shop in downtown Chatfield, 225 S. Main, or online at Registration will be done at 1 p.m., with the plunge slated for 2 p.m. All participants must have a completed pledge form, signed waiver and proper attire including shoes.

For more information, call Dean Irish at (507) 993-1523 or Jay Hanson at (507) 261-4540. General questions about Chill Fest may be directed toward Kris Bradt at (507) 867-4120.