19th Annual Polar Bear Plunge Brings Hundreds To Lake Michigan For A Cold Dip To Raise Funds For Families In Need

Brandon Ison
January 25, 2020 - 1:00 pm

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Locals didn't let the snowy and rainy weather stop their weekend fun as hundreds of people gathered at North Avenue Beach for a dip in the freezing Lake Michigan.

The 19th annual Chicago Polar Bear Plunge brought Chicagoans out in costumes, sombreros, pajama onesies, undergarments and normal bathing suits to brave the cold and support a local charity that will donate money to three families in need.

The plunge is a longtime charity fundraiser organized by the Chicago Polar Bear Club, formerly known as the Lakeview Polar Bear Club started by Brian Marchal in 2001. Since then, the event has raised $400,000 and helped 30 families

Not to be confused with the Chicago Polar Plunge, which takes place in March, the January frigid tradition started out as a family affair and has now created a Chicago community gathering, bringing over 3,000 plungers to the beach since 2002.

"Just a couple shots of vodka and some eggs for breakfast," was how a group of friends got the courage to jump into the lake.

The event gets bigger every year, which allows the sponsors and organizers to help more families. This year the event is helping two to three more families than previous years.