Nearly 500 participate in Polar Bear Plunge in Connellsville
It was a milestone jump into the Youghiogheny River at Yough Park in Connellsville on Wednesday.
Approximately 40 of the founding members and original jumpers celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Polar Bear Plunge by running into the river 5 minutes before the rest of the nearly 500 participants.
Mike Parlak, one of the founding organizers of the event, said it has grown from just over 40 people to “10 times that.”
Parlak added, “The man responsible for all of this is Frank Jacobyansky. His and my kids and Vinny Traynor's kids were all involved in Scouts and one day Frank (Jacobyansky) brought up the idea and we decided to go with it.”
Jacobyansky said they never dreamed it would take off like it has.
“It's become a wonderful tradition in Connellsville and people expect it now,” Jacobyansky said. “It's crazy enough that people want to join in, but it's fairly safe — we haven't lost anyone yet.”
Jonathan Luczka and his dad, Philip, were two of the people who took the plunge 10 years ago after their friend, George Eutsey, dragged them along.
“It's become a father-son tradition now,” said Philip Luczka, who added that even though the duo now knows what to expect when they jump in, it's still invigorating.
“We're also a whole lot more prepared,” Philip Luczka said, pointing out the mat they brought to stand on when they came out of the river as well as extra clothes, towels and shoes.
“We will continue to keep doing this,” Philip Luczka said. “We need to keep the tradition going — not only for the community, but for the family as well.”
This is the fourth year that Kendyl Crosby and her dad, Scott, of Greensburg have come to Connellsville to participate in the New Year's Day fun.
She said that while she was nervous the first year, she gets excited about it these days.
Originally her group had just three participants, but this year a total of 10 jumped into the river.
“It's something that grows every year for us,” Crosby said.
Jacinta Ptacek of Connellsville is fairly new to the event, jumping in the last three years. Her 11-year-old son, Brady, has been jumping with her for the last two.
“It's just something that I wanted to be a part of, to start the New Year off right,” she said. “It's just neat to be able to say you did it.”
Luella Hawk first participated with her sisters four years ago after their mother died. It was a way for them to pull together.
Hawk's 7-year-old daughter, Lydia, also looks forward to taking the plunge with the group.
“It's just fun to get wet,” she said.
The event apparently has provided an opportunity for families to begin and continue a tradition.
Parlak seemed to sum it up best.
“I think you just have to have a little crazy in you to do this,” he said.
Rachel Basinger is a contributing writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Vietnam vets from Fayette recall service — and those who didn’t make it home
- Connellsville board set to tackle budget
- Connellsville WWII veteran recalls close calls as a bomber navigator
- Gulf War veteran restores Uniontown mansion
- Connellsville building owner uses graffiti to point out unsightly demolition debris
- Army unit reunites to honor fallen comrade in Uniontown
- Keepsake ornament depicts Dunbar church history
- Brownsville Boy Scouts make sure vets are not forgotten
- South Connellsville man has fond memories of service in Navy
- Civil War Festival preparations set
- Fayette County communities plan Memorial Day services