Polar Bear Plunge on 'rain or shine'

    Rescheduled Plunge to raise money for Special Olympics Delaware. Organizers say a record number of ‘Bears” could end up in Atlantic Ocean.

    The Lewes Polar Bear Plunge is set to go on as planned Sunday at 1 p.m. despite the forecast of heavy wind and rain.

    The event, which benefits Special Olympics Delaware, just can’t seem to escape extreme weather. It was postponed in February because of a snow storm. And now, with up to five inches of rain predicted this weekend, the National Weather Service has issued an area flood watch.

    The good news is there is only a 30% chance of rain on Sunday.

    “We are going to go rain or shine so that decision’s already been made,” said Jon Buzby, spokesman for Special Olympics Delaware.

    However, a new question arises. With temperatures expected to reach 58 degrees — is it still a Polar Bear Plunge?

    Moments after taking part in the staff Plunge on Friday, Buzby was more than qualified to answer the question.

    “Well, having just come out of the ocean I can tell you, it’s still cold,” he said. “It’s definitely winter weather.”

    Buzby says the ocean temperature is 41 degrees, only slightly warmer than the typical Plunge temperature. But he says the warmer conditions could be a blessing. About 3,000 people have already registered and the warmer weather could draw even more.

    “We actually had a significant number of first-time Bears sign up to do the Plunge as soon as we made the decision to move it to March,” he said. “We’re hopeful that trend will continue and that we will be able to attract more people which will in turn attract more money.”

    Organizers are hoping to surpass last year’s $490,000 in funds raised. Chill seekers can still sign up — but only in person — Saturday or Sunday in Rehoboth Beach.

    Buzby says all of Saturday’s events will also take place as planned. They include a 5K Run/Walk, an ice-sculpting demonstration and a restaurant chili contest.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.