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Annual polar dip plunges into new territory

The Bridges House Polar Bear Dip is back, but with a twist: the event has been moved from campus to Yoho Lake.

The Polar Bear Dip is an annual charity event hosted by the Bridges House on campus. Bridges residents raise money for the IWK Children’s Hospital by jumping into an outdoor pool full of freezing cold water.

The dip took place on campus in years past, but had to be moved this year because of financial issues.

“We owned the pool but facilities management charged us $3,600 to set up and take down the pool,” said Alyson Pickard-Tattrie, president of Bridges House.

At this rate, the charity event was costing more than it was raising for the IWK. Last year $6,200 was raised, but after covering the costs to put on the event, only $2,200 could go to the hospital.

In previous years, most of this cost was covered by UNB Residence Life. However, it soon became apparent that some residences were asking for much more funding than others.

“Some houses would have no special requests because the nature of their charity was such that they didn’t need any additional support or help,” said Angela Garnett, director of student life.

“Then some houses were asking for quite a bit of help, to the point where really … the charity wasn’t making any additional funds.”

ResLife then created a policy stating that it would give each house $500 in funding each year. Each residence would have to either cover their charity event with that money alone, or provide additional funding on its own.

Because of the cost to set up and take down the pool, Bridges decided to change the location of the event to Yoho Lake. Students will be bussed to the lake from campus.

“They had the best interest of the IWK at heart, and thought ‘what can we do to make the tradition continue but be able to donate the maximum amount to our charity?’ So that’s sort of how it morphed,” Garnett said.

Ailish Grieve, a Bridges House resident, doesn’t mind the relocation despite the fact that Yoho Lake is about 30 minutes away from campus.

“The costs are a lot lower to hold the event there, which will be great because we can give even more to the IWK,” Grieve said.

This year, Bridges will also be partnering with the Central Valley Adult Learning Association. All profits from the event will be split 50/50.

Each pledge must be a minimum of $25. A by-donation barbecue will take place after the dip at the Yoho Scout Lodge where prizes for the top fundraisers will be handed out.

A heated area known as the “Chicken Coop” will be provided to those who wish to donate without taking the plunge for an extra $25.

“Some people, as you may expect, don’t want to jump into the freezing cold lake. So, they pay the same amount as a plunger does, but then they basically get the best seat to watch everybody else jump,” said Pickard-Tattrie.

Heated military tents will be set up for plungers to get warm again after the dip.

“Getting people warm again is very high on our safety list, so nobody’s going to be standing around shivering,” Pickard-Tattrie said.

The Bridges House Polar Dip will be on Feb. 22 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Buses will leave campus at noon.

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