By Jake Winfrey
The Cullman Times
As people milled around the outdoor pool at the Cullman Wellness and Aquatic Center, the general sense of dread surrounding Saturday’s Polar Bear Plunge might have seemed tempered compared to previous years.
However, despite the tepid weather, the fourth annual Plunge still made its impact among the 50 or so people who chose to brave the waters for a chance at a free one-year membership to the Aquatic Center.
The water temperature hovered around 50 degrees for the latest rendition, its warmest since the inception of the Plunge.
Despite that fact, Cullman native Tom Calvert, 35, said the water was plenty cold enough for him.
“It was my first time doing it,” he said. “It may have been 50 degrees, but it was cold. I’d definitely advise anyone to try it at least one time.”
Joining Calvert in the pool was 12-year old Kara Shelton, who said she had never done anything like the oddball event before.
“I’ve never been in that cold of water,” she said. “It felt like negative degrees in there, but I might have stayed in there had it been like five degrees warmer.”
The locals weren’t the only ones who came out to this year’s festivities.
Mark Wilson spent most of his life living in Oregon before recently moving to Gadsden. The 56-year-old said he participated in the latest Plunge because of the event’s intentions.
“It was only $5,” he said. “And I know that money for stuff like this goes to a good cause, so I thought it’d be fun to try once.”
Although Wilson has been in more frigid waters, he added the plunge into the pool on Saturday was still up there at the top.
“It’s no place that I’d want to hang out, that’s for sure,” he said.
The Plunge isn’t for everyone, however, as 44-year old, Pam Shaw, would be the first to tell you.
The Madison native came for the 5K run only, where she placed third in her respective age group with a time of 29:30.
“I don’t want any part of that water,” she said. “I guess you could say I am just not the that adventurous.”
The Frosty 5K run was completed prior to the Plunge.
On the men’s side, the overall winner was Mike Allen, who came in with a time of 17:49. Dustin Dutton and Eddie Morrow finished second and third, respectively.
St. Bernard’s Will Faulk also participated in the race, picking up where he left off for the Saints this past cross country season. The senior placed first in the 13-19 age group.
For the ladies, Angel Sullivent took home top honors with a time of 21:55, while St. Bernard showed up once more with Alyeana Mami and Jaden Edge taking home second and third place with times of 22:01 and 23:12, respectively.
‰ Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 258 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.