The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


February 7, 2010

Silly and frilly Bucknellians highlight ice festival

LEWISBURG — It’s not so much about how little they wore, those Bucknell University students who undressed in 28-degree temperatures and scampered into the 34-degree waters of the Susquehanna River during Saturday’s Heart of Lewisburg Ice Festival.

As always, there were dozens of women in bikinis and men in Speedos.

But these days, it’s also about how much they wore in the annual polar bear plunge.

One guy hit the water in a turquoise tutu and another in an Uncle Sam top hat. A woman complemented her two-piece swimsuit with a multi-colored tassel cap ringed with fake dreadlocks.

A group even mimicked the running of the bulls in Barcelona, Spain, as they rushed into the Susquehanna clad in white outfits, red scarves and sombreros.

“They are getting creative,” Jenni Stieler, an ice festival committee member, said Saturday.

About 100 Bucknell students tiptoed, walked or ran into the Susquehanna River, she said, some submerging themselves entirely, some stopping when the water reached their waists. A crowd of about 200 watched from the river bank near the St. George Street boat launch, where a 12 mph northerly wind, gusting to 19 mph, brought the windchill factor to 16 degrees.

“It’s just a fun, crazy scene,” Stieler said. “It’s a unique thing to do. It ties in so perfectly with the festival and the way everything has evolved over the past seven years.”

Linda Sterling, executive director of the Lewisburg Downtown Project, which organizes the festival, was pleased with the turnout despite earlier fears that an overnight snowstorm — which dumped about 6 inches — would deter visitors.

“Lots of people came out for games (at Hufnagle Park) and the polar bear plunge,” Sterling said. “We had good, steady crowds. On Friday people were coming in to look at the ice (carvings). It was a fun atmosphere. The snow at first dampened spirits, but now it adds to the overall fun of the event.”

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