Winter Carnival and charity polar plunge open to community

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Photo of Winter Carnival poster.

Winter Carnival offers events from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

KALAMAZOO—Winter at Western Michigan University may never be the same.

To showcase Western Michigan University's sixth annual Kalamazoo Polar Plunge, WMU is staging a MyWMU Winter Carnival from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, on campus at Goldsworth Valley.

Members of the WMU and Kalamazoo communities are invited to spend a fun-filled snow day on campus, enjoying a variety of competitions along with sledding, ice skating and live entertainment. Hot food and beverages will be available for purchase.

The day's big event, the Kalamazoo Polar Plunge, will begin at the pond in the early afternoon and is a fundraiser for Special Olympics Michigan, which provides year-round sports training and athletic competition for more than 19,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

Admission to the carnival is free, as is parking in lots 60 and 89. Preregistration is requested at mywmu.com for the plunge and several other activities.

Kalamazoo Polar Plunge

The 2013 Kalamazoo Polar Plunge will feature hardy souls jumping into Goldsworth Valley Pond as motivation for their family members, friends, co-workers and neighbors to donate to Special Olympics Michigan.

The event is open to anyone willing to bear the elements for a good cause. It is known for its courageous participants, who dress up in zany costumes before they plunge, and for its Golden Plunger Award, which honors the participant with the most creative costume or best jump. This year's schedule of activities includes:

  • Check-in and registration—starting at 12:30 p.m.
  • A parade of costumes—1:45 p.m.
  • Plunging—starting at 2 p.m.
  • An awards and post-plunge party—2:45 p.m.; open to everyone

Participants need to raise at least $75 in pledges to plunge and will receive a commemorative long-sleeve T-shirt. Those who don't want to brave the frigid waters may collect donations and receive a T-shirt that bears the "Too Chicken to Plunge" logo.

To preregister or make a donation for the Kalamazoo plunge, visit the Special Olympics Michigan website at somi.org.

MyWMU Winter Carnival

Along with hosting the Polar Plunge, WMU will open Goldsworth Valley and nearby intramural fields for a communitywide carnival.

The University is building a temporary outdoor ice rink for open skating and will have a limited number of skates available to rent. There will be a heated hospitality tent where carnivalgoers can warm up between activities and a stage for live music and comedy performances.

The event begins at 10 a.m. with an open skate, music, and the first rounds of the snow softball and flag football tournaments. Chili, hot chocolate and other menu items will be available. In the afternoon, those participating in the duct-tape derby will transform cardboard boxes into sleds, then race their creations. Throughout the day, young and old alike are invited to bring their sleds to the intramural field next to the Sorenson Tennis Courts for some old-fashioned family fun.

Weather permitting, the full schedule of activities is as follows:

  • Open skating—10 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., 3 to 6:45 p.m. and 7:05 to 10 p.m.
  • Sledding—throughout the day
  • Flag football and snow softball tournaments—10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; semifinal and final rounds in the afternoon following the Polar Plunge
  • Snowman-making contest—11 a.m.-4:45 p.m.; awards presented at 5 p.m.
  • Polar Plunge events—starting at 1:45 p.m.
  • Battle of the bands—3 to 5:45 p.m.; awards presented at 5:45 p.m.
  • Duct-tape derby—3 to 6 p.m. on-site sled building; racing follows

For more information

For more information about the Polar Plunge and MyWMU Winter Carnival, including a map and driving directions to the site of these events, visit mywmu.com.

Questions about either event may be directed to Jason Long, director of creative services in WMU's Office of Development and Alumni Relations, at jason.long@wmich.edu or (269) 387-8789. Questions about the Polar Plunge also may be directed to Tom Dowdall, development manager for Special Olympics Michigan's Southwest Regional Office, at t.dowdall@cmich.edu or (616) 583-1202.