Individuals Brave Cold Water in Annual Polar Bear Splash

07 January 2017
The 11th annual "Polar Bear Splash" on Saturday featured the largest number of participants in the event's history. Photos by: Torrence Dunham
Over Forty People Jumped in Freezing Cold Water at the 11th Annual "Polar Bear Splash" in Prescott Valley on Saturday
PRESCOTT VALLEY- Flip Halstead is familiar with cold water, having lived in Michigan before moving out to Prescott Valley for the winter three years ago, but Halstead experienced something new when he hit the water along with other brave individuals participating in the 11th annual Polar Bear Splash at Mountain Valley Splash in Prescott Valley on Saturday.

“It was instant brain freeze,” Halstead said. “But I focused on a prize and went for it.”

It wasn’t exactly Halstead’s choice to brave the cold temperature of the water on Saturday.

“My wife saw it in the paper and kind of volunteered me,” Halstead said with a grin.

However, the experience didn’t scare him away from doing it again next year.

“We’ll be back for sure,” Halstead said. “Maybe get the wife to do it too.”

It took a little more time for Steve Rosen, who is known in the community as “Sergeant Steve” from his Kickstart Fitness for Women program, to be convinced.

Rosen mentioned a friend on Facebook messaged him about the event and encouraged Rosen to take the polar bear plunge. As the conversation continued, Rosen became more interested in the proposition before finally agreeing to do it.

“It meant a lot to both of us to get out here and show ourselves that sometimes you got to challenge yourself and have some fun in the process,” Rosen said.

Rosen said this was his first polar bear plunge and mentioned he doesn’t know whether or not it might be the last.

“They said it was going to take your breath away (but) I wasn’t prepared for just how shockingly cold it was,” Rosen said. “It wasn’t a typical cold that your normally feel, it was just a biting cold.”

Even with the bitter cold, Rosen still enjoyed the experience and it gave him a greater perspective of others who take the plunge across the country.

“It was a lot of fun,” Rosen said. “There is people doing this in Minnesota right now-below zero- so, you know, the fact that it is 35 degrees-the water was 42 (degrees)-I’m doing ok.”

The event lasted around two hours and featured staples like the ice cream eating contest and the hairy ice princess competition.

Eric Lenzi had to be convinced by his wife Ashley to compete for the ice princess crown.

“She (Ashley) did this thing three years ago trying to get me to do it and I wouldn’t do it,” Lenzi said. “This year, I just bit the bullet and I did it.”

It paid off for Lenzi as he had the honor of beating 13 other candidates to wear the crown and be declared the 2017 ice princess.

“I wasn’t sure if I’d win or not but it was pretty good,” Lenzi said. “Everybody cheered for me.”

It won’t take Lenzi any convincing to come back next year.

“I got to defend my crown,” Lenzi said.

Jean Luppa, from Arizona’s Hometown Radio Group, has hosted the event every year since its inception and said the crowd was about the same as last year considering the gloomy weather but the ice princess competition and number of participants in the polar bear plunge were the largest in the event’s history.

Photos by Torrence Dunham

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