The 22nd annual Chicago Polar Plunge returns to North Avenue Beach after being virtual last year

By Kristen Gesicki, Staff Reporter

The Chicago Polar Plunge returned back to the beach after a year-long wait due to COVID-19.

Plungers and crowds of people cheering headed to North Avenue Beach for the 22nd annual Chicago Polar Plunge on March 6.

Mary Slowik, interim executive director of Special Olympics Chicago and Special Children’s Charities, said there were more than 3,000 registered plungers this year, with a majority of in-person plungers jumping into the chilly water for a good cause.

Taking the lead, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the TikTok historian Sherman “Dilla” Thomas and the cast and crew from “Chicago PD” and “Chicago Fire” were among those on the VIP list of local celebrities and guests.

Plungers were met with fierce winds and cold water temperatures of 42 degrees, but that did not stop their fiery spirits and warm hearts.

Slowik said the plungers who remained virtual this year were asked to send in a photo or video of themselves plunging in a creative way, along with the $200 minimum donation to be featured in the Chicago Polar Plunge virtual compilation video.

All funds raised will be donated to the 7,500-plus athletes from Special Olympics Chicago and Special Children’s Charities. This year’s Polar Plunge exceeded last year’s goal and raised more than $1.7 million dollars.

“It’s just the city coming together to really do good for others,” Slowik said. “I think that’s what’s so inspiring about the Chicago Polar Plunge — it’s a fun event that is just a win-win for everyone.”